By Timothy Loh, Regional Director for Southeast Asia, USSEC
Soy Excellence Centers (SECs) provide world-class programming for agribusiness professionals in emerging markets. Recently, SEC Asia facilitated its inaugural feed milling course for a cohort of 125 professionals from 10 countries in South and Southeast Asia. Over 3 days, the group engaged in a knowledge transfer program led by international experts in animal feed production that will enable them to improve the quality of their contribution to the global value chain.
With the global population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, worldwide protein consumption is on course to double over the next thirty years. To meet the ever-growing demand for animal protein, animal producers around the world require reliable access to higher volumes of quality animal feed. Diversification of global supply is a key component to the sustainability of the value chain. When considering emerging markets that demonstrate growth potential, the South and Southeast Asia regions collectively have developed a strong foundation to build from. For example, according to the Alltech 2021 Global Feed Survey, the five major markets in Southeast Asia - Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam – together produce between 95 and 100 million metric tons of feed annually, primarily for poultry and swine. Still, maintaining and growing these production levels is not assured, as the regions face myriad and unique challenges that include uneven access to technology, outdated facilities, labor shortage, market access, and animal disease.
To help enable producers in these regions adapt to these challenges and prepare for the future, recently, Soy Excellence Center (SEC) Asia facilitated its inaugural feed milling course for 125 protein industry professionals from across the regions. As with previous courses, including SEC Asia’s most recent poultry course that took place in April, the SEC program leverages expert knowledge and technical expertise from the U.S. Soy industry to address local challenges and increase productivity. In the feed milling track, participants are provided with comprehensive foundational knowledge including animal nutrition, feed formulation, quality assurance and processing. The goal is that participants will apply this knowledge when they return to their respective enterprises, realizing productivity gains that ultimately contribute to higher profits for producers and increased supply of quality product at a lower price.
The launch of the feed milling curriculum comes at a critical time, as farmers in the South and Southeast Asia regions are responding to the prevalence of African Swine Fever (ASF) and Avian Flu. In the Philippines, for instance, prior to 2019, the country had been producing over 18 million metric tons of feed on average, 50% of which produced for swine. After ASF swept through the country, the effect was devastating, leading to a loss of over 35% of its swine population. This disruption has been felt the most by small and “backyard” farmers, many of which have been forced to close in the last several years. Other markets in the regions can tell a similar narrative.
On the other hand, medium to large farms that have survived and thrived during this period have seen opportunities to expand operations, investing in new farms and technology enhancements. Moreover, the overall level of sophistication of pig farming in these regions is improving steadily, and the number of large and commercial feed mills are growing, particularly in Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. With this growth comes the need to identify more trained professionals, which is where the SEC program is well equipped to support.
One of the graduates of the recent feed milling course, Crispin Cruz, an operations manager at an integrated layer farm in the Philippines, provided his insight on how he anticipates using the knowledge from the course in the field. “The [feed milling] course…gave me essential information on the importance of raw material quality control as it is affected by post-harvest conditions, storage and processing. The feed milling course emphasized the importance of feed safety and animal nutrition as it relates to our quest to produce safe, delicious and affordable food products for every Filipino family, while considering animal welfare, community development and sustainable production in our farm operations.”
SEC Asia is preparing to train more agribusiness professionals like Mr. Cruz, as subsequent courses in feed milling, poultry and swine production are being organized for later this year. When we consider that these local professionals are willing to take the opportunity to access international knowledge and best practices, we can start to grasp the potential of what can be achieved together as a truly global value chain.
SECs are primarily funded by partnering Qualified State Soybean Boards (QSSBs) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service, with support from U.S. soybean farmers, their checkoff the United Soybean Board and the soy value chain.
This article was partially funded by U.S. Soy farmers, their soy checkoff, and the soy value chain.