The project has helped grow Pakistan’s aquaculture sector by using U.S. soy as a feed ingredient source for farm-raised fish.
Protein is a necessary component of the human diet. While different protein options exist, people who live in areas that border the ocean often rely on fish as a main source of protein.
Pakistan, a large country located in South Asia, borders the Indian Ocean. With a population of nearly 200 million people, it is a developing country that uses fish from the ocean for protein, but because getting enough fish from the ocean to supply the country can be difficult, farm-raised fish has become a promising alternative.
“There are a lot of fishing villages (in Pakistan), but worldwide it’s a phenomenon we’re starting to get less fish from the sea,” said Carlos Campabadal, faculty member in the Department of Grain Science and Industry at Kansas State University. “Raising fish is a good option to bring that source of protein back for the local market.”
Pakistani entrepreneurs who reside around the world have an interest in making the country’s aquaculture industry a success, he said. They have found raising fish brings its own challenges, such as how to feed and grow the fish efficiently.
Campabadal, who is also an outreach specialist for the IGP Institute in Manhattan, Kansas, has taken part in developing solutions for these farmer-entrepreneurs. Since 2011, he and others at K-State have been involved with the American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health, or WISHH, project called FEEDing Pakistan. The project’s aim is to teach Pakistanis about the benefits of using soy as a feed ingredient for farm-raised fish.
The first phase of the project ended last year, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has funded FEEDing Pakistan, announced this summer the approval of the project’s second phase. Campabadal said Phase I assisted nearly 2,000 Pakistani fish farmers in increasing the market value of the country’s tilapia production. In fact, the market value went from zero to an estimated 450 million rupees, or $4.59 million in 2014, according to Mike Woolverton, a partner in AgriMarkets International and subcontractor for K-State’s portion of the project.
The project has also shown success, Campabadal said, in that people from different parts of the world have gathered to learn from one another. Pakistan’s fish farmers have witnessed how soybean meal provides good nutrition for the fish, because it has a good amino acid profile.
In addition, it is a much cheaper option than fishmeal, a traditional feed ingredient source for fish worldwide. It is a co-product of the fish processing industry and can be expensive. At times, fishmeal is not available in the local market.
“The majority of the farmers (in Pakistan) were just starting, so many of them actually grew to have bigger farms,” he said. “We not only helped the farmers grow, but we also helped the industry grow. You need somebody to produce the feed and help buy all the ingredients. We connected with the local industry to make extruded pellets, the typical way you feed tilapia fish.”
Campabadal said other partners in the project made it possible to bring the Pakistani farmers to the United States every year for the first three years of the project. Those partners included the University of Arizona, where visiting farmers could learn about marine biology and management, and the Kansas Soybean Commission, which provided funding for programs and trainings, and allowed for collaboration among Kansas and Pakistani farmers.
Benefits of FEEDing Pakistan extended to the U.S. soybean industry that has now identified a way to increase export opportunities. Campabadal said growing soybeans in Pakistan is not an option, so the U.S. farmer benefits by exporting more soybeans, and at the same time, other sectors of the domestic industry benefit. Soybean meal is a co-product that comes from crushing soybeans and taking out the oil. The co-product is exported to Pakistan.
Because Phase I of FEEDing Pakistan involved trainings and growing fish farms, the focus of Phase II is to provide the farmers with more technical knowledge to expand even more. Campabadal said the second phase involves WISHH, but K-State and the Kansas Soybean Commission will continue conducting trainings on how to make the fish feed.
“We will also teach them how the whole export market works, how you buy soybean meal and how world trade goes for soybeans,” he said. “Phase II is more WISHH managing the project, but we’ll still be heavily involved in the technical training that is our expertise.”
Campabadal added that the IGP Institute works with the U.S. Agency for International Development and other agencies to help reduce malnutrition and hunger in developing countries. He sees opportunity in expanding successful projects like FEEDing Pakistan to help other areas of the world.
Story by: Katie Allen