News: South Asia
USSEC India recently worked with the feeding and social welfare program of the government of the Maharashtra province to promote soy utilization in its programs. In addition to partnering with the national and international branches of the Lions Club, it also involved the Govardhan Mahila Bal Vikash (GMBV – woman and child welfare organization), a government contractor which exclusively works on eradication of malnutrition through using soy-based formulations.
GMBV has been using soy to prepare protein supplements for this province with the technical support of USSEC. The organization also used the results to submit reports recommending soy be included as a protein enhancer in feeding programs on a national level. Convinced by soy’s impact to tackle malnutrition, the Lions Club International, a welfare organization with social responsibilities, decided to help the Indian government and the feeding program contractors to meet the additional costs involved in soy-based formulations. This program was attended by 95 participants, including authorities from the Lions Club’s national and the international branches, government officers and government feeding program contractors.
USSEC Director – India Food Program Dr. Ratan Sharma addressed the gathering, emphasising malnutrition in India and the Asian Subcontinent (ASC) in general, and discussed soy-based formulations in welfare programs and the role soy can play in tackling malnutrition.
Partnering with the Lions Club International is important for USSEC because the organization has a global mandate to eliminate malnutrition that will propose to implement soy-based formulations to 210 malnourished countries in the world, including the entire ASC region.
India has the second highest number of undernourished people in the world with about 225 million who are chronically undernourished. The prevalence of underweight children is highest in the world. Food and nutrition security has been a major developmental objective in the country since Indian independence, but despite high economic growth, the country has so far failed to improve its food and nutrition security. The Indian government runs the world’s largest feeding and social welfare program, covering 250 million beneficiaries by providing full meal and supplementary nutrition.
Dr. Ratan further stated that soy is the major nutritional ingredient for these programs but is limited in use due to in lack of sufficient fund allocations. Involvement of organizations such as the Lions Club to offset additional costs will significantly boost soy utilization in these programs. USSEC India is working in this direction to help utilize soy produced in the country as well as working towards creating a future opportunity for U.S Soy.
USSEC recently hosted board members and staff of the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) as they visited India on a market assessment mission from January 13-19. Their meetings began in New Delhi with the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), followed by discussions with other U.S-based organizations with agri-operations in India, including the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), ADM and Cargill, which provided the mission with the opportunity to listen to agribusiness management that each handles in India and its neighboring countries. The USSEC team provided its views on soy dynamics in the Asia Subcontinent (ASC) and provided insight to how the program is handled. These meetings gave the ISA team different perspectives on India, with reference to soy business and all factors that govern its utilization and growth.
The Illinois team traveled to Hyderabad in south central India to gain field experience on a poultry farm and a feed mill. They also had the opportunity to interact with poultry entrepreneurs who have strongly considered backward integration (soy crushing) as a means to secure soybean meal for their operations. These meetings and visits helped them gauge the potential of the animal feed industry which accounts for about 90 percent or 4.5 million metric tons (MMT) of the total soybean meal use in the country. Their visit to Indore in central India, which is the country’s soybean-producing hub, gave the ISA team an idea of soybean production methodology, handling, trade and other related processes. Observations at the wholesale grain market provided a picture of soybean farming practices in India in comparison to the advanced technology that the U.S. Soy farmers employ. The interactions at the soy crushing plant of one of the largest Indian soy firms, Ruchi Soya, demonstrated the extent of value addition for soy in the form of soy flour and texturized soy protein (TSP) used for human food. Their interactions with trade associations Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA) in Indore and the Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEAI) of Mumbai allowed them to examine how the Indian industry views its current and future soy business.
ISA directors Dale Asher, Sherri Kannmacher, John Longley, Bill Raben, Lynn Rohrscheib, Carrie Winkelmann, along with communications director Amy Roady and meeting and event manager Dustin Scott made up the ISA team.
ISA made many observations during their trip to India, including that the country’s soybean exports have dropped significantly; GMO soybeans are not allowed, but the government is still deciding this issue; GM cotton is allowed; the huge, growing population needs more protein; Indians spend 54 percent of their income on food; the country has a very high poverty rate, a growing middle class, and an emerging tech sector; per capita consumption of oil is high; soybean prices run about $14 per bushel; yields are about 1/3 of U.S. yields; there are many small farmers (less than 2 hectares); farming is very inefficient in India, but it keeps people busy; the crushing industry operates at 1/3 capacity; the poultry industry is mostly live market and has to pay for higher soybean prices; India has high tariffs and wants to protect its market, especially for non-GMO soybeans, but there is a lot of potential for U.S. Soy if the market opens up, along with opportunities for whole soybean imports such as jobs, oil for food use, and meal for livestock.
Please click here to view more pictures of ISA’s mission to India.
USSEC’s Southeast Asia (SEA) and Asia Subcontinent (ASC) regions teamed up to educate a team of 14 aquaculture entrepreneurs on hatchery and farm production technologies for new fish species. The focus was on a high value fish variety called the murrel, which fetches $4.50 – $ 7.00 per kilogram (whole fish), depending on the market region. This fish is easily farmed in China and SEA, but India lacks the technological knowledge to produce this fish.
USSEC Deputy Regional Director – ASC P.E Vijay Anand states that India’s aquaculture program has identified several constraints and one of them is lack of diversity in feed-consuming fish species. The mission was to convince Indian aquaculturists to adopt more feed-consuming species into their production systems. These new initiatives will demand more soy-based fish feeds. R. Umakanth, who manages USSSEC’s aquaculture program for the ASC, and Vo Hoang Nyugen, USSEC Technical Consultant, Aquaculture – Vietnam, implemented the mission under the guidance of USSEC Aquaculture Program Lead Technical Consultant – Sea Lukas Manomaitis.
The fourteen-member industry team was composed of six aquaculture integrators, four fish hatchery operators and four large fish farmers. About ten group members were graduates of professional fisheries capable of grasping new technologies promptly. The six integrators also run aquafeed businesses and hold 50 percent of the fish feed market share in India (300,000 metric tons (MT) /year).
The team went through a detailed technical overview on murrel production presented by Dr. Trinh Quoc Trong, director of the National Breeding Centre for Southern Freshwater Aquaculture. This was followed by a series of field visits to murrel hatcheries and farms. The team was able to witness consistent production, feed-based farming of murrels and their distribution systems into the local market. They had an opportunity to visit the National Breeding Centre for Southern Freshwater Aquaculture, whose main task was to apply new technologies in selective breeding, genetic manipulation, hybridization, and gene pool conservation for freshwater fish species. To help add value to knowledge on the entire value chain, the program also visited a feed mill that supplies feed for murrels, distribution systems for feed and markets where murrels are sold.
Mr. Umakanth shares that a month after returning from Vietnam, one of the participants was invited by a state fisheries department to educate more entrepreneurs on murrel farming. Three of the participants have started developing hatcheries for the species and the National Fisheries Development Board is now motivated to conduct induction programs for fisheries department personnel on murrel production. By establishing more new species, it is believed that more feed capacities and soy meal will be put to use in India.