WISHH’s Southeast Asia Trade Team Cultivates U.S. Soy Sales Leads

Apr 29, 2020

Karen Koble Edwards • From Spring 2020 American Soybean Magazine 

WISHH’s trade team joins the owners of a Cambodian fish hatchery and WISHH strategic partners, as they install Cambodia’s first in-pond raceway aquaculture system. Rathada is also demonstrating the benefits of fish feed made with U.S. soybeans.

U.S. soybean growers delivered key soy protein messages to current and potential customers that ASA’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) works in Cambodia and Myanmar, where protein demand is rapidly growing for aquaculture and livestock feeds as well as human foods.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds supported the Jan. 12-20 travel for the 13 soybean leaders to have face-to-face discussions with WISHH’s many contacts in the human food and livestock feed industries. U.S. Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy addressed the U.S. and Cambodian business leaders during WISHH’s 2020 U.S.-Cambodia Soy Trading Conference.

“The most important part of the trip was to show potential buyers and users of soybeans that we would like to be their supplier, and we have a product to meet their specifications,” said WISHH Treasurer Jim Wilson, a Michigan soybean grower on the team.

WISHH recruited seven companies that export U.S. soy or equipment to join the trade team. Importantly, WISHH continues to collaborate with U.S. soy exporters as well as the current and prospective customers. A follow up survey shows six of seven U.S. exporters on the WISHH trade team report the trip yielded new sales leads.

The trade team also celebrated a milestone with a WISHH strategic partner by joining a ribbon cutting for Cambodia’s first in-pond raceway aquaculture system, an important innovation for the sustainable increase of fish production in the region. The Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (MSMC) supported WISHH technical assistance in the planning and construction of the raceway aquaculture system, which is a channel for continuous flow of water to grow fish at the hatchery. The family owned Rathada Farms Hatchery breeds tilapia and catfish. Rathada raises the fish through the “seed” and fry stages before selling fingerlings to fish producers in the region.

“Our Missouri farmers’ soybean checkoff dollars were vital to WISHH’s work with Rathada on the new raceway,” said David Lueck, a WISHH program committee member and a past MSMC chairman who served on its board for more than a decade. “Furthermore, WISHH leveraged our investment by integrating Rathada’s strengthened fish-production capacity into WISHH’s USDA-funded Commercialization of Aquaculture for Sustainable Trade (CAST)–Cambodia project.”

In addition to Wilson and Lueck, WISHH Program Committee members on the trade team included ASA Director and WISHH Chair Daryl Cates (IL), ASA Director and WISHH Vice Chair Gerry Hayden (KY), WISHH Treasurer Jim Wilson (MI), Bob Haselwood (KS), ASA Director Morey Hill (IA), Bob Suver (OH) and United Soybean Board (USB) Ex-Officio Member David Williams (MI). ASA Director David Droste (IL), USB Director Mike McCranie and South Dakota Research and Promotion Council Director Bob Metz joined.

While in Southeast Asia, the WISHH trade team also traveled to Myanmar. ASA and U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) Director Stan Born, as well as USB and USSEC Director Doug Winter, both of Illinois, were part of the team in Myanmar. WISHH is leading USDA-funded activities to grow Myanmar’s human food market, and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) is active in the animal feed and aquaculture sectors.