China a cash cow for our dairy farms
FROM the plains of Inner Mongolia to a muddy field in Athy, representatives of the world's most populous country hot-footed it to the Championships yesterday to find out how we do things over here.
China is turning out to be a cash cow for the Irish dairy industry, as that country develops a newfound thirst for milk, and business experts are hoping to deepen the links.
Zhenghong Lee, who manages a co-op with 20,000 cows in Inner Mongolia -- a province of China -- couldn't believe his luck when he came to inspect milking machines, and ended up shaking hands with President Mary McAleese.
"It is very interesting to see how you do things here and especially so much in one place," said Mr Lee, who plans to open a chain of 15 farms back home.
The Chinese are drinking three times as much milk as they did 10 years ago, but the industry has been battered by a scandal involving contaminated formula milk in 2008, and they are turning to our centuries-old dairy industry to get some lessons in quality control.
Enterprise Ireland brought the team of buyers with millions of euro of buying power from all over China to Athy yesterday to get a flavour of Ireland's agrifood business -- and develop vital trade links.
An ultimate goal would be to set up a major Irish dairy farm in China, harnessing this country's expertise in genetics, machinery and food safety, said Cathy Holahan, China Adviser of Enterprise Ireland.