USSEC was one of the industry leaders in its decision to implement a pause on expert contractor travel during the current COVID-19 outbreak for the protection of its target audiences and USSEC contractors/staff. However, in an effort to continue to work to promote the use of U.S. Soy with key target audiences, particularly aquaculture feedmills, the USSEC Southeast Asia Aquaculture Program has started using teleconferencing approaches with those target audiences that have the capability and desire to do so.
On March 2, USSEC worked with Kinh Bac Feedmill through a Skype teleconference. Kinh Bac’s director, Nguyen Van Manh, led the participation of ten staff members in Bac Ninh, Vietnam. USSEC Feed Specialist – Southeast Asia Mark Newman of M.N. Aqua Nutriton Consulting participated from Quito, Ecuador, USSEC Technical Manager – Northern Vietnam Dr. Bui Ngoc Thanh took part from Bac Ninh, and USSEC Technical Contractor – Aquaculture Lukas Manomaitis joined from Bangkok, Thailand.
The outbreak of COVID-19, originally centered in Wuhan, China, has become a global eruption that appears to be spreading quickly. USSEC made a decision to pause travel while the situation is being evaluated and, as a result, many planned programs and technical servicing have not been able to take place unless done remotely. The USSEC Southeast Asian Aquaculture Program is a very aggressive program that typically would have both long-term contractors and short-term experts working at this particular time with industry on technical servicing to especially promote U.S. soy products and demonstration preparation.
The USSEC SEA AQ program is now working to incorporate teleconferencing approaches for key experts to continue outreach to target audiences. In this case, the aquaculture team worked to bring Mr. Newman together with Kinh Bac Feedmill, a progressive feedmill in northern Vietnam that uses U.S. Soy and has closely cooperated with USSEC in the past to discuss issues related to micro and macro nutrients and how they relate to aquaculture nutrition and formulation. This event was led by Dr. Bui, USSEC’s Northern Vietnam Technical Manager, who both arranged the event and translated the presentations, interpreting for Mr. Newman during the four-hour teleconference.
While the ideal situation for technical servicing is and will remain physical meetings, USSEC SEA AQ will adapt to continue to work with industry in whatever way possible. This includes teleconferencing approaches where feasible.
“Kinh Bac has been supported and collaborated by/with USSEC for a long time,” states Mr. Nguyen. “Currently, we are using U.S. soybean meal and will continue using U.S. soybean meal in the future for aquafeed formulation due to its high quality and aquaculture technical support. The telecommunication conference is a good chance for us to get a better understanding about the relationship between feed quality and fish health. [We are] hoping that USSEC will continue supporting us like this.”
In representing U.S. Soy internationally, USSEC is always looking to ensure that it is able to interact with key target audiences, no matter what the challenges are. This activity is an example of how USSEC is working to continue technical servicing despite a travel pause.
Vietnam is an important market for U.S. Soy and the Vietnamese aquaculture industry is No. 3 in the world for production of feed-taking aquaculture species.