American Soybean Association (ASA) World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) leaders joined Cambodian and U.S. government officials and partners today in Phnom Penh to launch a strategic partnership that will grow trade and development of Cambodia’s important aquaculture sector. Cambodia’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon and Chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia Michael Newbill officiated at the launch ceremony of ASA/WISHH’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded Commercialization of Aquaculture for Sustainable Trade (CAST) – Cambodia project.
CAST will accelerate production of high-demand fish species for the Cambodian market and develop a lasting aquaculture industry. The five-year CAST project is a prime example of WISHH’s enterprise-driven development approach. A key aspect of the project strengthens local production of high-quality feed and fish. CAST makes it possible for Cambodia’s private sector and universities to work closely with U.S. soybean growers and businesses, as well as academic and non-governmental organizations.
His Excellency Veng Sakhon described how the project will strengthen value chain linkages from hatcheries to producers, buyers, and distributors.
Photo: Seated in front row: Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon and U.S. Chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia Michael Newbill officiated at the launch ceremony of ASA/WISHH's USDA-funded Commercialization of Aquaculture for Sustainable Trade (CAST) – Cambodia project. Back row: Representatives of the Cambodian government, USDA, State Department, WISHH and CAST partner organizations.
Newbill, who is the U.S. Embassy’s ranking representative in Cambodia, said, “The CAST project is unique because it uses an abundant resource—soy—and utilizes it as a feedstock for Cambodia’s growing aquaculture industry. This project means increased sales of U.S. soybeans to Cambodia. The result will be increased production of locally raised high-quality protein source that Cambodians will enjoy eating and greater ties between our two countries."
He added, "The CAST project’s goal of increasing aquaculture production is in line with the Ministry’s policies and will improve Cambodian livelihoods. Importantly, it will also reduce pressure on wild capture, which currently accounts for about 76 percent of total fishery production.”
WISHH’s CAST project benefits from the strategic expertise of key partners, including the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), Kansas State University, Auburn University, World Vision, and local universities in Cambodia. Importantly, Cambodia’s local private-sector feed mills and hatcheries and the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries are all collaborating with WISHH to implement CAST.
“CAST is another exciting WISHH opportunity for U.S. soybean growers to work in Southeast Asia thanks to USDA funding,” said WISHH Chairman Daryl Cates, an Illinois soybean grower. “Cambodia’s small-and medium-sized entrepreneurs are well-positioned to drive commercial growth in the aquaculture sector – both to produce a consistent supply of quality fish and increase market demand for quality assured inputs, like fish feed, and related aquaculture support services.”
In addition to Chairman Cates, WISHH Program Committee Members at the event included: Craig Converse (SD), Scott Gaffner (Ill.), and Dawn Scheier (SD). Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council Board Members Kyle Durham, Tim Gottman, Bob Littleton, and Director of Business Development Tony Stafford. North Dakota Soybean Council Director Daniel Mock is also in Cambodia, along with WISHH Executive Director Liz Hare, Asia Division Director Alan Poock, and CAST Chief of Party Jim Hershey.
The WISHH delegation will tour Cambodia’s Center of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition of Royal University of Agriculture, a fish hatchery, animal feed store and more. Cambodia’s GDP has increased by more than 7 percent per year since 2011, growing the demand for animal and aquaculture-sourced protein. CAST’s anticipated local economic impact exceeds $300 million over the life of the project, and Cambodia’s aquaculture industry demand for soybean protein is projected to reach 100,000 metric tons per year by 2030.
While in Southeast Asia, the WISHH trade team will also travel to Myanmar, where WISHH is leading USDA-funded activities to grow the soy food market, and USSEC is active in the animal feed and aquaculture sectors.