Missouri Soybean Farmer-Directors Help Connect Trade and Development for U.S. Soy Through ASA/WISHH’s CAST Project
Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council Board Members Kyle Durham, Tim Gottman and Bob Littleton as well as Director of Business Development Tony Stafford joined the launch of ASA/WISHH’s newest strategic partnership. ASA/WISHH’s U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded Commercialization of Aquaculture for Sustainable Trade (CAST) – Cambodia project is designed to grow trade and development of Cambodia’s important aquaculture sector.
The MSMC trade team joined Cambodian and U.S. officials at the CAST inaugural event on January 31 in Phnom Penh. The five-year CAST project makes it possible for Cambodia’s private sector and universities to work closely with U.S. soybean growers and businesses, as well as academic and non-governmental organizations.
“The CAST project seeks to build and expand the ability of Cambodian farmers to raise fish not only for local consumption, but for export as well,” said Durham who serves as MSMC vice chair. “With WISHH chosen to lead and implement CAST, Missouri soybean farmers can be sure that the value of their soybeans as a protein source is foremost on the minds of the individuals who will work closely with Cambodian importers, feed millers, and farmers.”
Cambodia’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon and Chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia Michael Newbill presided at the launch ceremony. His Excellency Veng Sakhon described how the project will strengthen value chain linkages from hatcheries to producers, buyers and distributors.
Newbill, who is the U.S. Embassy’s ranking representative in Cambodia, said, “The CAST project is unique because it uses an abundant resource—soy—and utilizes it as a feedstock for Cambodia’s growing aquaculture industry. This project means increased sales of U.S. soybeans to Cambodia. The result will be increased production of locally raised high-quality protein source that Cambodians will enjoy eating and greater ties between our two countries.”
He added, “The CAST project’s goal of increasing aquaculture production is in line with the Ministry’s policies and will improve Cambodian livelihoods. Importantly, it will also reduce pressure on wild capture, which currently accounts for about 76 percent of total fishery production.”
WISHH’s CAST project benefits from the strategic expertise of key partners, including the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), Kansas State University, Auburn University, World Vision, and local universities in Cambodia. Importantly, Cambodia’s local private-sector feed mills and hatcheries and the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries are all collaborating with WISHH to implement CAST.
The MSMC representatives toured Cambodia’s Center of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition (CE SAIN) of Royal University of Agriculture, a fish hatchery, animal feed store and more. Cambodia’s GDP has increased by more than 7 percent per year since 2011, growing the demand for animal and aquaculture-sourced protein. CAST’s anticipated local economic impact exceeds $300 million over the life of the project, and Cambodia’s aquaculture industry demand for soybean protein is projected to reach 100,000 metric tons per year by 2030.
While in Southeast Asia, the WISHH trade team also traveled to Myanmar, which is often called Burma, where WISHH is leading USDA-funded activities to grow the soy food market. The U.S. Soybean Export Council is also active in Myanmar’s animal feed and aquaculture sectors.
“The Cambodian and Burmese governments have both identified food production as segments of their economies that hold the most potential for growth and expansion,” said Durham. “Building personal relationships with the importers, entrepreneurs, and farmers in these countries to build preference for U.S. and Missouri soybeans will pay long-term dividends.”
ASA/WISHH connects trade and development. As a trailblazer for trade, WISHH grows markets for U.S. soy farmers, and at the same time, improves lives and economic opportunities in developing countries. WISHH works with international companies and organizations that purchase U.S. soy. These buyers invest thousands of their own dollars to research and promote soy-based foods and feeds made with U.S. soy in emerging markets. Over the last five years, WISHH leveraged soybean farmer checkoff investments by a ratio of more than 6-1.