Exclusive interview with the head of the Ukrainian Stock Breeders Association Iryna Palamar in the magazine 'Agrarniy Tyzhden"

Submitted by bashun on Fri, 09/21/2018 - 12:18

There are many young and beautiful women in Ukraine. However, not all of them are ready to reasonably, enthusiastically and selflessly take on the problems, which sometimes require titanic efforts. Iryna Palamar is one of those. Her energy is enough to negotiate in state offices, and to train specialists in the field she is engaged in, as well as to take part in strikes. What motivates this beautiful woman to take active steps? Where does she find her inspiration and what goal does she strive to achieve? This is what we are talking about today.

- There are more than one hundred agrarian professional associations in our country. You decided to create another - the Ukrainian Stock Breeders Association (the USBA). How and why did this idea arise?

- Yes, there are many associations of the agrarian sector. Some of them are more "highly specialized" and unite, for example, only producers of milk or poultry producers, or pig producers. Others, on the contrary, operate much more broadly, uniting all representatives of agrarian business. We decided to focus on the livestock sector - the most vulnerable sector among the agrarian directions, but not only on some kind of individual farming, but to unite all producers of livestock products.

Since I am also a co-owner of the largest Ukrainian feed producer AVA Group and closely associate with the company's partners - both pig producers and milk or poultry producers - I understand the problems that these people face every day at all levels of business. Therefore, the stock breeders, in contrast to the producers of crop production, are subject to much greater risks. If it is enough for the grain-growers to sow the field in spring, and in summer to harvest it, the stock breeder works tirelessly all year round, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. After all, caring for an animal is a whole complex of daily worries: about its health, proper feeding, comfortable keeping ... This is a continuous process that will not accept failures and mistakes. That is why we try to help producers by involving international experts in animal nutrition, genetics, veterinary services, content systems, etc., by conducting trainings and round tables for members of our Association so that Ukrainian producers of livestock products have access to the latest world achievements of the industry.

However, improving the professional level of our manufacturers is just one aspect of what we are doing.

One of the main USBA’s tasks is the protection and lobbying of the interests of producers in the government. Unfortunately, the situation is such that people who are far from production are often involved in the adoption of sectoral legislative initiatives, and therefore do not have knowledge about the real needs of stock breeders. Therefore, we are the link that unites the producer who works on the farm, with the official who sits in the office. We are the link that informs the representatives of the authorities about the problem of stock breeders and defends their rights at the meetings in the Ministry of Agrarian Policy, the Parliament's agrarian committee, etc.

In addition, we participate in the formation of law-making processes, we support our exporters in establishing international relations, we find importers, we help approve documentary procedures for setting up exports, and we do many other effective steps to support stock breeders. We understand that the producers can not survive alone (except perhaps the largest ones that are integrated into government), therefore our Association unites all the participants of the industry who do not want to be a passive observer of the economic situation in the country, but to create the agrarian future of the state on their own. We cooperate, hold joint meetings with the involvement of analysts, experts, scientists, government officials, create working groups with a profile ministry, and together develop effective mechanisms for resolving pressing issues.


- Who are your allies in the Association? After all, no matter how confident the leader is in his own convictions and experience, he must rely on like-minded people.

- Our main support, I would say, is the producers themselves - members of the Association. The Association includes real locomotives of the Ukrainian economy - large, powerful producers of cattle, pigs, leading enterprises in the market, large exporters. If it were not for their active position, participation in all our joint projects, speeches at open meetings in the Ministry of Agrarian Policy, participation in protests against unjust legislative initiatives, etc., we would not be able to achieve the results that we have today.

We are supported by the people's deputies of Ukraine who support their country, First Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine Stepan Kubiv, and our Prime Minister Volodymyr Groisman, a number of heads of ministries and departments. We received many victories for the industry due to their help.

The Association also has support of several members of the European Parliament, representatives of a number of branch international organizations.

We closely cooperate with scientists, in particular with the Institute of Veterinary Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine that also participated in the above-mentioned projects. There are academicians of branch directions in our expert council. There is support from other government, business and public associations, in particular the Council for International Trade under the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, which I am a member of, the Ukrainian Industrial Association for Plant Protection, the All-Ukrainian Ecological League and the Ukrainian Business Association, and a number of other branch organizations.

The authorities actively support us in the regions where we conduct trainings and other educational activities for the stock breeders.



- The Association loudly announced its intention to enter international markets with livestock products. Which countries? Are there any real agreements already?

- Our main achievement, which has already been realized because of a long and fruitful work, is the opening of the export of cattle to Turkey. Today, indeed, the main importers of our cattle are the Muslim countries of the Middle East, who dictated their conditions to our producers regarding the prices of products, reduced them, and I have repeatedly heard complaints of the Association members and cattle exporters.

I understood that we needed a powerful competitor - a new large importer, due to which the prices of our beef would increase in the foreign market. Turkey became such a powerful consumer - a country with a population of 72.5 million, where the overwhelming majority (about 90%) are Muslims that are the main consumers of beef.

Therefore, I personally asked the director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Sevki Acuner, to help me convince the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Ukraine to start the process of exporting our beef to their country.  I met several times with the trade adviser of the Turkish Republic, Mr. Haydar Kocak, who was initially skeptical, because he believed that our meat does not meet their requirements. Therefore, we had to ask the first deputy of the State Service of Ukraine for Food Safety and Consumer Protection, Andrii Zhuk, to the cooperation, and together with him we managed to convince the trade adviser of Turkey that Ukraine is safe considering the epizootic situation. With this, in fact, the process of opening such an important export direction began.

Later, we prepared and presented the full analytical material on Ukraine on meat exports for representatives of the Office of the Trade Advisor of Turkey in Ukraine. This information was developed by the Turkish authorities and detailed in the counter information request. Also, one of the key Turkish companies arrived in Ukraine on the USBA’s initiative, which will be the main buyer of cattle and meat products in Ukraine. The company became a member of the Ukrainian Stock Breeders Association. Later, the Turkish authorities officially confirmed their readiness to open their market for the export of live cattle and meat from Ukraine. Then there was a long process of harmonizing veterinary certificates between the Ukrainian and Turkish sides.  Finally, on July 9, the State Service of Ukraine for Food Safety and Consumer Protection reported that they and the competent body of the Republic of Turkey had agreed on a veterinary health certificate for fresh, chilled, frozen meat in carcasses/cattle boning of meat, intended for import to Turkey from Ukraine.

As for exports to a number of other countries, this work continues. In some areas we have already held a number of negotiations. In particular, these are countries such as Vietnam, which wants to buy Ukrainian pork; Iran, which is interested in importing cattle, poultry, and also investing in livestock in Ukraine; Uzbekistan, which wants to buy our high-quality genetics of cattle (for this purpose, I visited Uzbekistan at the invitation of the Ambassador of Uzbekistan, Mr. Alisher Abdualiyev), Lithuania, which is interested in buying our meat (cattle, sheep, poultry) for further exports to the Middle East, North Africa, China and several other countries.


- If we recall the programs that you started, they most often concern the training of specialists. Why there is such a pickiness to the professional level of specialists in Ukraine and other countries?

- In the livestock business, as well as in other industries, in order to achieve high results, one must keep in step with the time, because the technology of animals breeding quickly develop. Those performance indicators, which were considered normal 20-30 years ago, are now old-fashioned.  Everything is being improved: genetics, feed, approaches to rationing, technology of keeping and feeding. And those approaches that were applied earlier, under the new conditions simply will not work. For example, if we take into account dairy production, in Soviet state farms the average cow gave 15-17 liters of milk per day, but today the modern genetics is capable of producing 40 kg of milk per day! Of course, this new genetics requires new approaches in feeding and keeping. Therefore, today it is extremely important to pay special attention to training specialists in advanced world technologies. Not all domestic agricultural educational institutions are able to provide their students with access to international experience in this field.

Our Association cooperates with the leading international experts in feeding, veterinary medicine, animal maintenance systems. From the feeding areas of cattle, pigs and poultry we have the best experts from the Netherlands, whom we regularly invite to Ukraine, organizing trainings for the members of the Association in all regions of the country.

As members of the Association - owners of livestock enterprises say - today the problem with qualified personnel of the livestock sector is very acute. You can buy the best food or build a modern high-tech farm, but if there is no one to competently manage and control all processes, then there will be no efficiency. That is, the owner simply wastes his money. That is why we pay so much attention to training specialists.

- After you graduated from the Vinnytsia Agricultural University, you started a few interesting projects and programs, in particular in countries such as India and Uganda, and the "School of poultry farmers"  in the Sultanate of Oman. Are these projects implemented?

- Uganda and other countries of the so-called "third world" is an ever-growing consumer meat market. However, there is still a breeding technology at a low level. That is why we organized a school there to teach local farmers modern technologies of poultry farming. As you know, the countries of the African continent still suffer from hunger. Nevertheless, to die of hunger in the modern world is the wildness of some kind! I believe that all civilized countries should help these states to improve the level of food security. In Ukraine there are highly qualified specialists in the field of animal husbandry, a good veterinary school, and we can pass on our experience to farmers of these countries.

For the same reason, the "School of poultry farmers" was organized in the Sultanate of Oman. The Minister of Agriculture of the Sultanate of Oman asked me personally to organize it, during our meeting in one of the working trips. We organized a school there for local farmers who breed poultry, brought the best experts and conducted a series of trainings on all aspects of breeding: feeding, keeping, veterinary. This, of course, gave the result: today our experience is widely used at poultry enterprises of the Sultanate of Oman.

- How important is the support of the team in your work? Should decisions, in your opinion, be taken exclusively collegially?

- You can not cope with a difficult problem alone, without supporters. Our activities are based solely on teamwork. The Association employs good specialists, each of whom is a specialist in the field. For example, in order to develop certain proposals for a certain legislative act, it is necessary that the document be studied by lawyers, economists, and veterinary medicine specialists, if, for example, it concerns the struggle against ASF, etc. Each expert justifies what points and why it is necessary to make the law work effectively.

- It is said that a person who chose a profession at the call of the soul, not only easily improves and gains experience, but also enjoys his work. Do you feel the same?

- I have always worried about the fate of my country, traveled abroad a lot, observed the lives of our neighbors and always thought: why do some countries live better and others - worse? I am very interested in history; I study all the processes that took place in our country. Therefore, I understand that our strengths are the agrarian sphere, the IT-direction and, most importantly, the great human potential. However, if we talk about the agrarian sphere, then we must depart from the perception of our country as a raw material appendage. We need to develop production, industry - that is, processed products with added value. And then we can raise our economy.

In addition, my love for the agricultural industry is also genetically inherent in me. I was born in the village; my father was the head of the collective farm-millionaire in Soviet times.

I have very ambitious plans; I always felt that I was born for something outstanding. Now, step by step, I embody my goals in life. I always go forward, set new challenges every day and do not retreat until I reach my goal. Moreover, not only my personal leadership qualities help me, but also, of course, a great love for the chosen work.

- If a smart, young and also ambitious and beautiful woman is the head of a serious organization, there are always gossip, jealousy, rumors ... Do you feel the jealousy of your colleagues?

- No. Who can be jealous of me? I can only be supported. After all, I was the initiator of the creation of the Association, I help our producers, I seek truth in the offices ... As for my team, I also try to gather smart talented people around me. The stronger and smarter your team is, the better your achievements are!

- Any activity exhausts, and working with people exhausts even more. You have a lot of communication. Where do you find consolation, how do you relax, how do you replenish the energy spent during the working day and the week?

- I have a wonderful family - a loving husband and two daughters, and this is the most important thing in my life. And then goes the career or social activities.

I also try to pay attention to my own development. Now I am studying history in-depth, in order to understand the way our country has been going, why it is that certain processes or cyclical processes take place in it. History repeats itself, and if we analyze what happened in Ukraine in recent centuries, then in principle we can predict its future.

- What, in your opinion, is the main vocation of a person, no matter what position he occupies?

- Every person living should think about what he will leave after himself. I am not saying that everyone should reach certain career heights, do some scientific discoveries or world achievements. Nevertheless, being a worthy citizen, a patriot, working for the good of your country, raising and educating decent children is something elementary that everyone can do. Do not live on the “it is not of my business” principle, but, unfortunately, many of our officials live on it today, whose goal is to rob more and take them to Swiss banks, leaving the ashes behind them. In our country we should take care of the well-being of not only our own, but also of our neighbor. We should protect nature and ecology. If you are an entrepreneur, create jobs, so that your people do not go abroad to raise the economy of other countries, but to strengthen their own.

I want to make my country better, so that my descendants will be proud of me. I know that I have the strength, knowledge, experience to do this. Sometimes it seems that I can move mountains. After all, we - the Ukrainians - are an outstanding nation and deserve to live with dignity.

- Ambition is an indispensable thing in an effort to achieve the goal. Would you like to lead, for example, the Ministry of Agrarian Policy?

I will tell you with confidence that my plans are more ambitious than just becoming the Agrarian Policy minister. However, it is necessary to achieve the goal step by step. Everything has its time.


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