Vietnam is one of the biggest producers of pangasius in the world, producing more than 2 million metric tons (MMT) of pangasius feed utilizing more than 600,000 tons of soybean meal annually. Pangasius is primarily an export product and margins are very tight, so ensuring that targeted nutrition levels are maintained to efficiently produce a good product for market is critical. The additional ability to certify the feed as coming from sustainable ingredients, like U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP)-verified U.S. soybeans will further add to marketing approaches. Since 2016, USSEC has noted the potential of using U.S. soybean meal and targeting future development in Vietnam’s pangasius industry, and so USSEC has introduced the In Pond Raceway System (IPRS) to Vietnam via trainings, visits to China IPRS models, and additional sharing of knowledge and experience. In FY20, USSEC identified the correct cooperator to start the first stage of this effort with pangasius in southern Vietnam with FFIC Pangasius Farm, in collaboration with the Missouri Soybean Association (MOSOY) through the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (MSMC).
USSEC is working with local Vietnamese farm and feedmill cooperators to create targeted U.S. soy-optimized feeds for a floating fingerling IPRS demonstration taking place in FY20. The demo took place from March 17 – 31 at FFIC. If the demo indicates that this technology and this quality of feed is worthwhile for producing advanced pangasius fingerlings, it could establish a new and more effective way to produce pangasius, helping to boost an important commercial aquaculture species. U.S. Soy was purchased and used to produce feed for this floating IPRS demonstration.
Although the construction of the demonstration floating fingerling IPRS coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, USSEC contractor Nguyen Thi Thuy Uyen (Trudy), who is responsible for this area, has been allowed to travel as the local situation still allows technical servicing (within strict guidelines). Ms. Nguyen has successfully steered the construction of the demo in virtual collaboration with other USSEC experts who are not able to visit the farm for face-to-face training. USSEC has provided online training, step by step every day during the construction time for the FFIC manager, farm staff, and construction team. Several USSEC experts have provided insight and help in this fashion including USSEC consultant Dr. Jesse Chappell; Technical Consultant - Aquaculture Asia Marine, Southeast Asia & Greater China Hsiang Pin Lang; Technical Consultant - Aquaculture, Southeast Asia, Philippines Levy Manalac; and Senior Technical Consultant - Aquaculture, Southeast Asia, Thailand Lukas Manomaitis. While the internet connection and videoconferencing ability on farm is not perfect, having a physical USSEC contractor on site at the farm to be the intermediary with FFIC staff and USSEC experts has helped to guide the construction and prepare the FFIC staff with training on correctly preparing the demo.
It is estimated that IPRS will be launched later in April and that after a week, FFIC Farm will start to culture advanced pangasius fingerlings using U.S. soy-optimized diets, opening an opportunity not only for Vietnamese pangasius, but also for U.S. Soy.
“Thank you to USSEC for using so much time to guide and train us during our construction and training period, particularly during these difficult times with COVID-19,” states Mr. Khoa, FFIC technical staff.
It is estimated that the use of the floating IPRS system with high quality feeds for pangasius advanced fingerling production will result in a high survival rate of fish (greater than 80%). Pangasius is an important commercial species for Vietnam and globally with high volumes produced. Once the fingerling issue is addressed, USSEC will be able to better make the case for improved feeds for growout as well.
USSEC’s work with aquaculture feedmills is the most critical part of the aquaculture team’s function as these feedmills are the end purchaser of U.S. soy products as an ingredient to incorporate into feeds. In this case, USSEC is able to showcase both a new technology (IPRS) as well as U.S. soy-optimized feeds.