Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visited Al Ain Farms in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday to see how Irish people and products are helping the UAE in its efforts to improve its food security and sustainability, in the face of climate change.
Before Cop28 starts formally on Friday, the Taoiseach saw how Irish assistance and expertise has helped Al Ain Farms to become one of the largest fresh milk producers in the UAE with 6,000 cows on site.
Its dairy operation is headed up by chief operating officer David Kirwan and fellow Irishman Pat McElroy. It also sponsors the local Al Ain GAA Club. Many Irish students have done placements at the farm since its foundation in 1981.
During the tour, the Taoiseach saw Irish products being used on-site in the cattle dairy section and was shown the unusual sight of the camel milking parlour.
Irish expertise has helped to ensure that the animals are well cared for in the UAE climate, and Al Ain Farms is also keen to learn more from Ireland’s expertise in sustainability. Mr Varadkar invited the farm to send a delegation to Ireland to meet with agricultural experts and share best practices.
Many Irish companies trade with Al Ain Farms including Connolly Feed Mills, which supplies feed for its camels, and Celtic Seaweed Minerals, which provides cattle supplements. Irish companies including Combilift and Crossland Tankers have supplied machinery, among many others.
Mr Varadkar will hold bilateral meetings with world leaders over the two days of the leaders’ summit. These will focus on climate change but ongoing wars in Ukraine and the Middle East are likely to arise. He make the Republic’s national statement to Cop28 on Saturday, “setting out our commitment to vulnerable countries experiencing the greatest impact of climate change”.
“Climate change is happening even faster than most people anticipated. The international community must achieve the goals it has committed to. We need to find a way of removing the obstacles that have stood in the way of progress to date,” he said.
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