Soybean producers tackle global food security through WISHH program.
by Jason Jenkins, Mill Creek Communications
Today’s headlines bring the challenges of global food security front and center. Ripple effects from the war in Ukraine reverberate around the globe, disrupting food and energy markets while sending prices for agricultural commodities, fertilizer and fuel higher.
According to the United Nation’s World Food Programme, the Russia-Ukraine conflict could increase the number of food-insecure people — those without affordable access to food that is safe, nutritious and sufficient — by 47 million in 2022.
Overall, global hunger is a troubling trend. In its recently released report, “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022,” the United Nations estimates that as many as 828 million people were affected by hunger in 2021, an increase of 17 million over 2020. Roughly 2.3 billion people — nearly 30% of the world’s population — were moderately to severely food insecure last year.
Since 2000, U.S. soybean producers have supported the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH), a program of the American Soybean Association. WISHH serves as a catalyst for creating new opportunities for soy in developing and emerging markets.
Gena Perry, WISHH executive director, says that in the past year, the farmer-led committee overseeing the program adopted a new strategic plan that places greater emphasis on global food security.
“Ensuring that communities have food that is accessible and affordable is what food security is all about, and that’s what WISHH is all about,” Perry says. “In most of the countries where WISHH is involved, there’s a protein gap, meaning there’s more demand for protein than can be locally produced. U.S. soy can help fill that gap.”
Missouri soybean producers have played an integral role within the WISHH program. For example, the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (MSMC) has been instrumental in the development and expansion of the aquaculture industry in Cambodia.
In conjunction with WISHH and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, MSMC provided funding for the planning and construction of Cambodia’s first in-pond raceway aquaculture system — a system in which fish are fed a floating feed that contains soy. By 2030, it’s projected that demand for soybean meal in Cambodia will reach 100,000 metric tons annually.
“The raceway project is a great example of how WISHH helps make connections that improve food security,” Perry says. “We’re helping fish farmers to more efficiently raise fish using high-quality feed made with U.S. soy. We’re also helping the feed mills, making sure they have the equipment and personnel to formulate the feed for different fish species.”
Soy protein also plays a significant role in alleviating human malnutrition, and recently, WISHH has developed direct relationships with organizations and enterprises focused on alleviating hunger. Perry says these non-traditional partners offer new avenues to grow soy’s role in global food security.
“We’re working with the World Food Program USA, figuring out how soy can be a larger part of the solution,” she says. “We’re also looking at how we can help connect companies who need soy protein with those who produce it.”
One such connection was made in late 2021 between Missouri-based Tiger Soy LLC and Edesia Nutrition, a Rhode Island company that creates ready-to-use therapeutic and supplemental foods that contain soy flour. Currently, Tiger Soy produces soy flour used in the formulation of Corn Soy Blend Plus, a fortified food product distributed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
“Edesia knows that soy is an affordable and accessible protein to add to their supplemental foods, so we’re helping them with research on an all-soy version,” Perry adds. “Ideally, this will lead to more demand for soy flour from partners like Tiger Soy, which will lead to more demand for soybeans from growers in Missouri and elsewhere.”
To learn more about the WISHH, visit www.wishh.org.