United Soybean Board (USB) director Jim Carroll, a soybean farmer from Arkansas, and American Soybean Association (ASA) director Bill Raber, an Illinois soybean farmer, recently traveled to Cairo to take part in USSEC’s 4th Regional Aquaculture Production Conference – Middle East North Africa (MENA), which took place July 6 – 9.
95 representatives from Middle Eastern and North African major aquaculture producers and feed millers took part in this event. Several speakers from different parts of the world gave talks on intensive pound raceway system (IPRS), re-use of water for hatchery, new technology for efficient fish production, feed formulation, value-adding trend in tilapia, and market trends in tilapia, along with several other topics. A comprehensive review on aquaculture development in Egypt and other countries including Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Tunisia, was also discussed. Various U.S. equipment manufacturers for aquafeed provided an introduction to their services and equipment.
Mr. Carroll and Mr. Raber delivered growers’ perspectives of the U.S. Soy industry to attendees.
USSEC consultant Dr. Mian Riaz, Director – Food Protein R&D Center at Texas A&M University, gave two talks, “Advances in Aquaculture Feed Manufacturing” and “Ingredients Consideration for Extrusion of Aquafeed.” Dr. Riaz has given lectures on soybean processing and aquafeed extrusion at USSEC conferences in this part of the world in the past as well. USSEC has a long-term relationship with Texas A&M University, where they send participants from all over the world to attend aquafeed extrusion short courses offered by the university’s extrusion technology program.
USSEC aquaculture nutrition and feed milling consultant of M.N. Aqua Nutrition Consulting Dr. Tim O'Keefe reported, “The most impressive news was about the rapidly expanding aquaculture development in Egypt. Egypt is now the largest aquaculture producer in the Middle East, and the sixth largest in the world. Egyptian fish farmers harvested more than 1.7 million metric tons (MMT) of fish in 2017. Tilapia accounted for 80 percent of this production. The Egyptian aquaculture industry is expected to increase annual production to 2.3 MMT by 2020. Most of the increase is expected to come from the culture of marine species, primarily along the Suez Canal. Egypt will continue to be an important market for US Soy and soy protein concentrate.”
Dr. Kevin Fitzsimmons, Director - International Programs, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said that the conference “provided an excellent overview of the growth to aquaculture in Egypt, the Middle East, and North Africa. Those attending the conference in Cairo learned that Egypt especially has seen its fish and shrimp farming expand considerably in recent years with soy-based aquafeed driving much of that growth. As tariffs have driven down the price of U.S. Soy products, MENA region aqua farmers have been a bright spot of expanding demand.” He continued, “Representative farmers from the U.S. explained some of the sustainability and efficiency innovations that soy agriculture has implemented to provide more and higher quality products for aquaculture around the world. Aquafeed companies in Egypt are using large quantities of these U.S.-sourced products to make and sell formulated feeds that are supporting the growth of fish and shrimp across the region.”
Experts from across the region described how the demand for seafood products continues to grow while the supply of wild-caught fish plateaued almost 40 years ago. Virtually all the new supplies come from aquaculture. Several speakers pointed out that more than half of all consumed seafood now comes from farms, most of which are using soy-based feeds. In fact, Egypt now supplies almost 70 percent of its own seafood from aquatic farms. Overall, the positive aspects of rapidly growing demand for farmed seafood and the soy products used to feed them left those attending with high expectations that soy-fed fish will be an important market continuing long into the future.