Planned factory to prepare Estonian hay for the Middle East

Holstein/Frisian dairy cows.
Holstein/Frisian dairy cows. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

A recent detailed plan would see a hay feed factory in Lääne County prepare Estonian hay from coastal meadows and flood plains, which sports a lower calorific value, for sale in the Middle East.

The factory is sought by Golden Fields Factory, a company owned by Jordanian businessman Mahmoud Ahmed and U.S. investor Chris Dodson. The firm's head of development Alo Alt told ERR that the investment comes to around €10 million.

Provided the plant can source enough raw material to have three shifts and work 310 days a year, which is the plan currently, it could employ 20-25 people.

The need for transport, catering and accommodation will create additional job opportunities near Lihula, Alt said.

He said that while Lääne County is less suited for grain farming than other parts of Estonia, it has plenty of coastal meadows and flood plains for making hay.

Golden Fields wants to boost currently rather modest hay production in the county to around 100,000 tons annually. He said that while Estonian cattle farmers are not always interested in meadow hay due to its lower calorific value, the factory's products will be exported to the Middle East and Japan where it is considered a serious alternative.

Alt said that the factory would cater to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar, South Korea and Japan.

If the detailed plan is given the all clear, the factory will compress hay into rectangular pallets that weigh 750-800 kilograms, with a single martine container taking 23 tons of the ready feed.

Lääneranna Municipality Mayor Ingvar Saare said while the factory would constitute an important investment for the local government, it is not certain the project will manifest. He pointed to logistical questions, such as access roads, as well as reactions from the local community.

He said that the plant's effect on the nearby Lihula boiler house that also uses hay needs to be analyzed as it could drive up the price. The municipality mayor said that if all goes well, the plan could be laid down a year and a half from now.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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