Viet Nam News
Andrew Doyle, Ireland’s Minister of State for Food, Horticulture and Forestry sends a message to Việt Nam News readers on the occasion of St Patrick’s Day, Ireland’s National Day.
On March 17, the world turns green in celebration of Ireland’s national day, St Patrick’s Day. This is a special time of celebration in Ireland and for all of those of Irish descent and affinity around the world. This year, I am delighted to be in Việt Nam to further our bilateral ties.
This is my second visit to Việt Nam. In 2016 I led an agri-food trade mission to Hà Nội and was impressed by the energy and enthusiasm I encountered here. Việt Nam’s development story has much in common with Ireland’s. Forty years ago, Ireland was a poor, agricultural based economy. Today, Ireland has a modern knowledge based economy focusing on services and high-tech industries and dependent on trade, industry and investment.
Ireland is a stable, competitive, secure and pro-business economy. In an increasingly complex and uncertain world, we remain true to our values. We believe in the international rule of law. We believe in free trade and the kind of globalisation that serves the greater good and the welfare, not just of our people, but of people everywhere. Our membership of the European Union (EU) has been a key factor in Ireland’s development success - and we remain a committed member of the EU and the Eurozone.
Ireland’s agri-food sector plays a critical role in the Irish economy. In a generation, our food industry has evolved into a world-class, global player. As a farmer myself I am extremely passionate about farming and what Irish farms have to offer the world. Our farms are the bedrock of Ireland’s natural, grass-based, sustainable food production systems. They combine traditional values and the best of nature with science and technology, to produce the highest quality food, with different generations of the family working together.
Planning for the future brings with it the responsibility of ensuring the next generations are not compromised in their ability to plan for theirs. Population increases and climate change are just two of the challenges putting enormous pressure on our planet’s finite resources. One of the most important investments we have made in recent years has been in Origin Green, our national agriculture and food sustainability programme which enables our food industry to set and achieve measurable sustainability targets.
Sustainability is key, and so too is safety. In Ireland we have invested in our food safety systems. This has allowed us to ensure safety not just for our domestic consumers but around the world. Today, Ireland’s world-class meat, dairy, beverages and seafood are enjoyed far beyond our shores. Last year, we exported 12.5 billion euro of food and drink to 180 countries. Irish meat and livestock is exported to more than 50 markets. Irish beef is on the shelves of 82 supermarket chains across Europe – more countries and more customers than any other national beef. We export to 120 countries in the dairy sector, including here in Việt Nam where I am delighted to see top quality Irish milk products.
We have pioneered change in our own agri-systems in Ireland and we have learned a lot from it. We are keen to work with Việt Nam to ensure both of our countries benefit mutually from the EU-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement.
This week I will meet my counterpart at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to review our co-operation in agriculture. We have achieved a lot since my last visit to Hà Nội less than two years ago. Through the Irish Aid programme we are supporting experience sharing between Ireland and Việt Nam. Since my last visit we have supported four new partnerships - with Việt Nam National University of Agriculture, IPSARD and NAFIQAD and Huế University. This week I am accompanied by the Dublin Institute of Technology, which is partnering with Huế University on the development of a curriculum on food safety management. We hope this collaboration can help train the next generation of food safety specialists in Việt Nam to the highest international standards.
I am very optimistic about our future partnerships with Việt Nam, and confident that we can work together for safer, more sustainable, greener agriculture.
So on this special week, when Việt Nam joins Ireland and the world in turning green, I want to wish all of the friends of Ireland in Việt Nam a very happy St. Patrick’s Day, or as we say in the Irish language, Beannachtai na Feile Padraig. — VNS