Soy collaboration is paying off

Lucas Heinen

By A Contributor

When I was a student at K-State, I planned on a career helping to feed the world. I never anticipated that job would bring me back to my alma mater to meet with people from Pakistan.

The university’s International Grains Program and the Ameri-can Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health have connected Kansas soybean farmers like me with partners who can use soy to improve diets in Pakistan, the world’s sixth-most-populous country.

Last month, K-State again hosted a Pakistani delega-tion that traveled more than 7,000 miles for training in fish-feed manufacturing, best management and tech-nical assistance. As secre-tary of the World Initiative committee, I also met last year’s participants, including the co-owner of a Pakistani company. After he learned about the potential for growth in the aquaculture indus-try, he ordered feed-extrusion equipment from Extru-Tech in Sabetha. He formally inaugur-ated Pakistan’s first extruder for the production of floating fish feed in July 2013.

With support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Kansas Soybean Commission (the soybean checkoff), the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health launched the “FEEDing Pakistan” project in 2011. The effort assists Pakistan’s govern-ment in reducing the “protein gap” and meeting the protein needs of its 187 million people. According to a U.S.D.A. Global Agricultural Information Net-work report published last year, there is great potential to increase U.S. soybean-meal exports to Pakistan for fish-feed production. It forecast a 525-percent increase in aquaculture production in Pakistan and an increase in demand for soybean meal from 42,000 tons to 260,000 tons. Such projections highlight the significant connection be-tween trade and development programs.

Pakistan has an extensive system of fish farming, but no commercial floating fish feeds were produced in the country until FEEDing Pakistan. Marine fish catch is down, and pro-cessing plants are running at about 30 percent of their capa-city. FEEDing Pakistan reduces the protein gap through the introduction and production of high-protein fish feeds made with soy.

World Initiative for Soy in Human Health has provided U.S. soy-formulated floating feed for demonstrations that have reached hundreds of farmers. FEEDing Pakistan demonstra-tion tilapia averaged 21 ounces per fish — double the weight of traditional Pakistani fish har-vests. Pakistani fish farmers never had seen such results. The tilapia received a premium in the local marketplace, and they increased enthusiasm for fur-ther development of Pakistan’s aquaculture industry with soy-based fish feeds.

Kansans also gain from such cooperation with countries like Pakistan that are meeting their needs for nutritious, delicious, affordable and readily available foods. The World Initiative for Soy in Human Health knows a simple equation: More people plus more buying power in developing countries equals more demand for high-protein foods. Income growth in developing coun-tries is on the rise. The middle class in developing countries is projected to increase by 160 percent by 2020 compared to just 15 percent in developed coun-tries, according to Global Insight.

Fifty years of U.S. soy market development have shown that we should help people understand how to use soy for human food and livestock and aquaculture rations.

I am glad K-State, KSC, World Initiative for Soy in Human Health and U.S.D.A. are looking to the future.

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