USSEC’s Aquaculture Investment Workshop (AIW) took place in La Paz, Baja California, Mexico, from March 5-7. The workshop brought together representatives from the aquaculture industry, feed companies, financial firms, and government agencies along with researchers to share knowledge and provide networking opportunities in an effort to grow the Latin American aquaculture industry.
This year's workshop is funded by the Kansas Soybean Commission. John Wray, USSEC board member and Kansas soybean farmer, said that the soybean industry invests in aquaculture because it is the fastest growing sector of animal production with demand for farmed fish and seafood expected to nearly double in a decade. "We see aquaculture as a great area of potential and a real opportunity for US soy in aquaculture feed," stated Mr. Wray.
USSEC CEO Jim Sutter, who opened the workshop, said in his opening remarks that the event was being held in La Paz again because the area has seen significant aquaculture industry development since the last AIW event held there almost two years ago. The Baja California region has many beneficial elements necessary for a successful aquaculture industry, including a clean marine environment, popular native species conducive to farming and government support, all of which have contributed to the industry's growth.
However, as USSEC Regional Director – Americas Francisco de la Torre pointed out to attendees, the industry has yet to fully realize its potential in this area and throughout Latin America. "Aquaculture is still a very small industry," explained Mr. de la Torre. "We need to band together for a critical mass in order to get the attention necessary to facilitate growth. We need to share our knowledge."
Mr. Sutter said that USSEC has been supporting the industry for 17 years with the Global Soy in Aquaculture Programme and has invested over $75 million in the past ten years. Much of that budget has funded research in developing soy-based feed for various farmed species and innovative aquaculture system technologies such as open ocean cages and pond raceways. "We started our work with aquaculture as technical assistance, and it evolved into trade assistance," he stated. "For the past three years, we have been holding these workshop events to really help the industry to connect the dots – connecting investors with producers, and producers with marketers. We feel that this is critical for this young industry's growth."
US Soybean Export Council