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Minister Helir-Valdor Seeder interested in Israel`s dairy sector

20.11.2013

Helir-Valdor Seeder, the minister of agriculture of Estonia, visited Israel on November 11-15. The Estonian minister met with Yair Shamir, Israel’s minister of agriculture and rural life. The centre of Mr Seeder’s main interest was Israel’s dairy sector. Israel has the world top level milk production with the annual average milk yield of 12 000 kg per cow.

At their meeting, ministers Seeder and Shamir discussed possibilities for cooperation between the two countries in further improvement of the dairy sector results, particularly in the fields of animal breeding and applied research concerning the development of probiotic products and the e-surveillance of cows. Possibilities to promote mutual trade were also searched. For example, ISR is importing more than half of fish consumed. Estonian rape oil and Israeli citrus fruit juice might be the most important products of our current relatively modest trade relations. Ambassador of Estonia in Israel Malle Talvet-Mustonen also participated in the meeting.

„Regarding the production of milk, Estonia and Israel are quite similar to each other and both have achieved rapid rise in improving efficiency. However, we have much to learn from Israel both in the field of veterinary surveillance e-solutions and in the field of animal feeding. We also want to find possibilities for common research projects both in animal breeding and product development,“ said minister Seeder who invited the Israeli minister to visit Estonia in the near future.

Minister was accompanied by President of Estonian Dairy Association Jaanus Murakas, Head of Trade and Agro-Food Department of the Ministry of Agriculture Taavi Kand and Head of Foreign Relations Department of the Ministry of Agriculture Ruve Shank. The delegation had meetings with Israeli Cattle Breeders Association, Central Milk Control Laboratory and Dairy Board. Tnuva, the biggest dairy plant of the Middle East, producing both cheese and city milk products, was also visited in the Alon Tavori industrial park.

Estonia and Israel have both considerably increased the efficiency of milk production. During the initial period of the state in the early 1950ies, Israeli average milk yield was a bit lower than 4000 kg per cow, in 50 years it has increased by nearly three times. When Estonia regained its independence, milk yield was a little more than 4000 kg per cow, now it is close to 8000 kg. Thus, during the last twenty years increase has been nearly twofold. In both countries, such results were achieved in spite of hard conditions: drought and lack of water in Israel, long and hard winter in Estonia, which do not enable all the year round grazing like in New Zealand, Australia or Ireland.

In Israel, dairy farming is still concentrated into cooperative settlements kibbutzes and moshavs, where feeding, veterinary surveillance and breeding of animals have been organised extremely well. Several e-solutions are being used to save farmer’s time and improve efficiency. The e-solutions selling company SCR.Co has the device that every cow counts – each cow should be used to maximum potential. Beside high productivity it has been achieved that cows remain in the herd for at least 4 lactations. At the same time, Estonian average is only 2 lactations.

Israel has developed fascinating e-solutions to inform consumers about product origin, ingredients and production inputs. The company AKOL has created a solution where the QR code on the package provides consumers with detailed information about the place of production, used fertilizers, seeds, etc. Most certainly, it is labour intensive to enter all those data and requires a certain programme. At the moment, ca 15% of the ISR food products are code-equipped and those products are mainly available in food supply chains of higher price level. A separate programme is available for organic products. Considering possible cooperation and the high level of Estonian e-services, such a programme could also be implemented in Estonia.

Source: Estonian Ministry of Agriculture (http://www.agri.ee/minister-helir-valdor-seeder-interested-in-israels-dairy-sector/)

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