At the end of January this year a delegation from the Samopomich Union Party of Ukraine visited AFBI’s research farm at Hillsborough.
The visit to Northern Ireland was hosted though the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. This is a non-departmental public body which operates closely with, but is independent of, the UK government. Its remit is to facilitate and catalyse the universal establishment of legitimate and effective multi-party democracy.
The delegation comprised of Mr Oleh Berezyuk MP who is chair of the Sampomich Union political group in Parliament, Mr Lubomyr Zubach MP who is a member for state building, regional development and local governance, Mr Ivan Smirenskyi who is chair of Samopomich Union political group in the Illichivsk City Council and Mr Serhiy Serhiyenko, a member of Odessa oblast party organization. They were accompanied by Juliet Thompson who coordinated the visit through the DFD fund with the aim to promote democracy and share best practices with other political parties internationally.
The visit was hosted by Professor Trevor Gilliland, head of AFBI Hillsborough, and Dr Lisa Black, arable specialist from AFBI Crossnacreevy. After a presentation on AFBI’s scientific support and achievements for the local agri-food industry, the delegation toured the livestock research facilities at Hillsborough to learn of the latest innovations in livestock science.
The delegation were particularly interested in the dairy and beef research studies, as Ukraine is seeking to increase its homegrown milk and meat products and better balance its agricultural production which is currently heavily dominated by its large arable sector. They were also impressed by the renewable energy systems employed on the farm to reduce the environmental footprint of livestock production. This included the anaerobic digestion of animal slurries to create electricity and hot water, and the new centrifuge and press facility that is being built to extract phosphate rich material and avoid its reapplication to the land.
Mr Berezyuk emphasised the value to them of visiting a region where livestock production is predominant and where there is such a wealth of scientific expertise available. He emphasised the opportunities for future collaborative research projects between AFBI and Ukrainian scientists. This is another example where AFBI is reaching out internationally to form new partnerships that can grow its funding base and enhance its global reputation in creating a more profitable, sustainable and environmentally sensitive agri-food sector.