WISHH: Catching On In Cambodia
By: Karen Edwards
Past Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council Chairman David Lueck cut the ribbon on Cambodia’s first in-pond aquaculture raceway system in January as he joined anASA World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) trade team to the country.
WISHH’s ongoing MSMC-supported work with the raceway continues as a Show-Me State success for Cambodia’s top officials, fish farmers and university officials to learn how soy- based fish feed contributes to their goals for growing Cambodia’s aquaculture industry.
“Our Missouri checkoff investment in WISHH has made it possible for more than 100 key Cambodian aquaculture leaders, ranging from hatchery owners to high-level government leaders, to see the benefits of soy-based feed in the raceway technology,” said Lueck, who serves on the WISHH Program Committee. “WISHH’s trainings and the raceway showcase how healthy fish are growing faster than fish produced with traditional Cambodian aquaculture feeding practices.”
The hatchery owners report they had never seen red tilapia grow as quickly as the ones in the raceway. Their Feed Conversation Ratio (FCR) was 1.7 during the 102-day production period. The lessons learned from the inaugural use of the raceway with all-male tilapia offer important insights to achieve a much lower FCR as the hatchery staff fine tune their feed management, aeration, and other techniques.
Another compelling finding for Cambodian farmers was the 15 percent ROI over 10 years on a $10,548 investment in the raceway equipment, electricity, fingerlings, and soy-based feed. WISHH’s analysis of the raceway also yields valuable feedback for the U.S. soy customer, AgriMaster, that manufactured the 30 percent-protein feed used in the demonstration. AgriMaster’s Cambodian-made feed was not only high quality, but it cost about half the amount of imported feed from Vietnam.
WISHH now advises they produce fish feed pellets that are larger than 3 mm to improve the FCR in the raceway.
MSMC funding has supported WISHH having an expert consultant, Leonard Rodgers, Ph.D., supervise construction for the raceway and design the feeding protocols of the small, portable floating unit that offers flexibility as well as an economical option for Cambodian farmer use. The raceway system is estimated to have a serviceable life of 10 years. It allows Cambodian producers to utilize smaller ponds, seasonal water supplies, and addresses the common challenge of limited capital.
While following social distancing guidelines, WISHH convened a field
day that covered topics, such as feeding demonstration protocols, cost analysis, and fish growth rates. Missouri farmers’ soybean checkoff funds supported the field day, as well as WISHH technical assistance in the planning and construction of the raceway system.
In addition to the farmer field day attendees, approximately 100 aquaculture farmers and distributors have visited Rathada Farms to purchase fingerlings, creating an opportunity for them to view the raceway and feeding demonstration. These visitors received a WISHH fact sheet on how the raceway works and the many benefits of using this technology. The feeding demonstration proved that a raceway system can be profitable for aquaculture farmers.
The Royal Government of Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) has partnered with WISHH to elevate the importance of aquaculture for COVID-19 economic recovery, as well as promote farm-raised fish as a protein-rich food for the health of Cambodia’s growing population.
WISHH leveraged the Missouri soybean checkoff investment by integrating Rathada’s strengthened fish-production capacity into WISHH’s USDA-funded Commercialization of Aquaculture for Sustainable Trade (CAST) – Cambodia project.
To learn more about programs from the American Soybean Association, including WISHH, explore soygrowers. com.
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