Jewish Times Asia March 2015
Dairy farm project in Vietnam nears completion Spanning 800,000 square metres and housing 15,000 milking cows in central Vietnam, the largest Israeli dairy farming project in the world is set to reach completion this year, the companies involved recently announced.
At a cost of more than US$200 million, Israelis teamed up with Vietnamese to construct the enormous TH Milk facility, in which the cows are capable of generating 9,300 litres of milk annually despite tropical conditions, the companies said. Stemming from an initial agreement signed between Kibbutz Afikim-based milking technology developer Afimilk, and the Vietnamese firm TH Milk in 2009, construction and operation of the 12 milking parlors has occurred in stages.
Design and planning for the facility has been implemented by the Tel Aviv-based AlefBet Planners Ltd., alongside the Galil Engineering Group. The original cows for the dairy farm arrived from New Zealand and were inseminated with Israeli and European sperm to maximize the quality and milk yield of the herd.
“Designing the site was particularly challenging due to the lack of existing infrastructure suitable for a sizable dairy industry in Vietnam,” explained Ronen Feigenbaum, chief designer of farms and livestock at AlefBet Planners. “The project is 11 times larger than the biggest milking facility in Israel and can generate milk amounts equivalent to 15 percent of Israel’s dairy industry,” he said.
Although average milk production in Israeli dairy cows reaches about 13,000 litres an-
New Zealand cows in Vietnam
Dairy farm in Vietnam
nually, reaching a 9,300-litre yearly production rate for cows in Vietnam is an achievement from a global perspective, due to the climate conditions, the project partners said. This accomplishment was made possible due to the installation of cooling systems that absorb excess heat, they added. Milking technology from Afimilk has also been instrumental in a second milking project in Vietnam, an Israeli demonstration farm just outside of Ho Chi Minh City in the south of the country.
The farm, managed by the city’s Agriculture and Rural Development Department, in conjunction with the Israeli Embassy in Vietnam, aims to help the country’s dairy farmers increase local milking efficiency and quality. Although employing technologies from private companies Afimilk and Netanya-based SCR Dairy, the demonstration farm is a public venture, whose professional operations are overseen by the Foreign Ministry’s Mashav Agency for International Development Cooperation and the Agriculture Ministry’s Center for International Agricultural Development Cooperation.
Unlike the demonstration farm, which has 174 cows predominantly for educational purposes, the commercial TH Milk farm is set to have some 20,000 cows by the end of the year. The farm could be expanded even further, but TH Milk would need to increase the size of the processing plant to accept more cows. All in all, over the past five years of working on the project, Feigenbaum said he observed
that “the knowledge transfer was enormous.” “Basically all the infrastructure that was needed for large dairy farming in Vietnam was built around this project – meaning veterinarians, medicines and vaccines,” he said. “I designed even how to unload the cows at the port,” he noted. “This infrastructure will serve other projects and serve Vietnam for a long period now,” Feigenbaum concluded.
Strong sales for Israeli wine 2014 was another good year for Israel’s wine industry, according to figures published by the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute (IEICI). Exports of wine and spirits rose 10% last year. The figures were announced at a two-day Tel Aviv Sommelier Wine festival in January which was being attended by dozens of Israeli winemakers and delegations of vintners from around the world. IEICI attributes the rise in wine exports to growing demand in North America, Europe and Asia. In 2014, 58% of wine exports amounting to US$23 million (US$20 million to the US) went to North America, US$13 million (up 12%) to Europe and US$2.2 million (up 27%) to Asia. In
Europe, France is the biggest market for Israeli wine.
IEICI Wine Department head Ya’ara Shimoni said that most Israeli wine exports are bought by the Diaspora Jewish kosher market. “In recent years Israeli won has won international recognition and the rise in wine exports to Asia where the kosher market is insignificant demonstrates the strength of Israel’s wine brand around the world,” Shimoni commented. IEICI figures show that wine and spirits exports have grown consistently over the past five years, having more than doubled from US$19 million in 2009.
Israel has 250 wineries of which 50 operate commercially. Overall annual sales of Israeli-made wine reached US$220 million in 2014.