Jul 20, 2020
Gerry Hayden, pictured with his grandsons, is a fifth-generation family farmer from Calhoun, Kentucky. He serves as vice chairman of the WISHH Program Committee and is an American Soybean Association director.
As he worked his Kentucky fields for his 46th growing season, Gerry Hayden, vice chairman of the American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH), shared with WISHH’s strategic partners that COVID-19 reinforces the importance of U.S. soybean farmers connecting trade and development across global market systems through the program.
Sharing Hayden’s personal message is one of many actions that WISHH has taken to work with partners in developing and emerging economies in Africa, Asia and Central America, where COVID-19 is creating unprecedented challenges to food security. WISHH is helping soy supply chain and other strategic partners to adapt so their food and feed operations remain resilient.
“COVID-19 means we need to collaborate more than ever with strategic partners around the world,” Hayden said. “In fact, COVID-19 is a reminder of the incredibly vital role that U.S. soybean farmers play in global food security and the sustained availability of protein-rich animal feed and human foods. Together, we can get quality protein to developing countries and emerging economies whether their need is feed for their fish, chickens or livestock, or they are seeking a nutritious and affordable ingredient for human foods.”
From Sri Lanka to Ghana to Guatemala, soy food and feed businesses that work with WISHH have demonstrated their commitment to global food security and trade. Many of WISHH’s strategic partners are recognized as essential operations by their governments. Some are running their lines at full capacity, and at the same time, implementing new food safety, worker health and other requirements.
WISHH is supporting them by sharing scientific and technical resources. Staff are providing one-on-one consultations as well as connecting strategic partners together to share ideas between countries.
WISHH’s strategic partners are established community leaders too. One African government requested that the owner of a soyfoods manufacturing company that works with WISHH serve as a featured speaker in government public service broadcasts to provide recommendations on how people can reduce their risks of contracting COVID-19. The company has employees who are staying at the food factory to keep processing and packaging soyfoods as well as deliver them by motor bike.
A strategic partner in WISHH’s USDA Food for Progress project markets and trains Ghanaian poultry farmers on its feed moisture meter. “We’ve made it possible for farmers and other users who currently have a GrainMate Moisture Meter to easily call our support lines when they need any guidance or support,” said company CEO Isaac Sesi.
The Commercialization of Aquaculture for Sustainable Trade (CAST)–Cambodia, another WISHH USDA-funded project, restarted direct farmer training and consultations in late May while maintaining strict hygiene practices and social distancing.
CAST team members visited the new chair of the Cambodian Aquaculture Association to share lessons and consult on harvesting techniques, pond preparations and farm planning for his five ponds that cover several acres, which makes his a relatively large aquaculture enterprise and an excellent CAST partner.
Throughout these weeks of COVID, WISHH has worked with strategic partners in developing and emerging economies to assure them that U.S. soybean farmers remain committed to getting a quality soy product to them this year just as they always have.