WISHH Graduates New Generation of Aquaculture Partners for U.S. Soy

Aug 28, 2023

WISHH Program Committee Chair Roberta Simpson Dolbeare and Treasurer Bob Haselwood join WISHH strategic Partner Evans Danso to honor interns of WISHH’s USB-sponsored training program at Danso’s Flosell Farms in Ghana.

WISHH Chair Roberta Simpson-Dolbeare and Treasurer Bob Haselwood joined Evans Danso in May to honor five young professionals upon completion of WISHH’s 16-week training at Danso’s fish farm above the banks of Ghana’s Volta River. The graduates demonstrate how WISHH’s United Soybean Board-supported internship program cultivates innovation and opportunities for the future of fish farming and soy demand in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Let’s feed the world some protein,” says the energetic Danso, who received the 2020 Best Fish Farmer in Ghana award and relies on 60%-soy protein feeds.

WISHH and Flosell tested the new program in 2022 with three interns who already held college degrees. All quickly landed jobs after their internships. More than 50 applicants from multiple countries competed for spots in WISHH’s spring 2023 training session. WISHH has leveraged its USB aqua internship project with USDA Market Access and Agricultural Trade Promotion programs. Nebraska soy checkoff funding is allowing WISHH to evaluate new-to-Ghana water aerators at Flosell Farms, which adds innovation to the interns’ learning.

The hands-on experience is prized by interns like Mbonea Assery Mdoe, who traveled from East Africa where he is the co-founder of Aqua-Farmers Hatcheries in Tanzania. “It’s been an incredible journey filled with invaluable experiences, personal growth and new connections,” says the entrepreneur who already had five years’ experience and a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. “I’m immensely grateful to the amazing team…excited to bring these new-found abilities to the next chapter of my professional journey in the aquaculture industry.”

Fellow intern Esther Anim adds, “I’ve learned about fish health management, combatting fish diseases and how to better produce fish; aquaculture is important to Ghana because not only is it going to improve fish production, but also it will give employment to the youth.”

WISHH’s global aquaculture strategy is feeding fish and helping fill the growing demand for more aquaculture professionals in sub-Saharan Africa. Since the year 2000, aquaculture production in sub-Saharan Africa has grown by 11% annually on average—almost twice as fast compared with the rest of the world.

Today, more than 60% of Africa’s population is under the age of 25. By 2030, young Africans are expected to constitute 42% of global youth. Such growth drives demand for protein and offers careers for the interns, who will have a positive relationship with WISHH and U.S. soy as a result of their internships.

Haselwood reports, “Sub-Saharan Africa is home to talented and hardworking young aquaculture professionals, and they have important natural resources to support future aquaculture growth.”

In 2022, Danso’s riverside farm produced 16 million fingerlings and 1,300 tons of  tilapia ready for human consumption. It is located about 60 miles south of the world’s third largest manmade reservoir by volume, Lake Volta, which covers a third of Ghana’s land area. Lake Volta cage aquaculture represents nearly 90% of the country’s tilapia production.

Simpson-Dolbeare shares, “A highlight of our trip was speaking with aquaculture interns and farmers who are poised to grow their industry. They voluntarily shared, repeatedly, why they prefer our high-quality U.S. soy for their feeds. WISHH is strengthening their overall aquaculture industry, which could eventually boost trade for U.S. soy in new markets.”