By Hamid Ayodeji
The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), the American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (ASA/WISHH) and the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) have jointly expressed their dedication to support and enhance the sustainable development and growth of the African feed industry and its long term commercial trade development.
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They said their commitment is on the back of the realisation that the African feed industry is generating solutions to enhance the continent’s soybean value chain, adding that they plan to establishSoy Excellence Centres (SECs), starting with one in Egypt, and that a future site planned for Nigeria is already in the works. They plan to invest in emerging markets, identify factors like growing populations, improving economic conditions to address protein deficiency among populations.
Kevin Roekpe, U.S. Soybean Export Council’s regional director for South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, in an interview with Business A.M. disclosed that the centres are designed to provide training, resources and education to all members of the soy value chain, including farmers, animal protein integrators, feed millers, animal nutritionists and local academic resources.
He said this would help to build awareness of the benefits of soy in animal feed, aquaculture and human consumption through teaching and highlighting best practices, which includes demonstration equipment used to show the production of soy, thereby enabling the organisations expose participants to all the available options in the production of high-quality soymeal and soy.
According to USSEC, depending on credit availability and many other factors, Nigeria could become a two to four million metric tonnes (MMT) market for U.S. Soy in the medium to long-term.
The regional director indicated that currently, the country crushes about one million metric tonnes yearly, and he also estimated an immediate need for 50,000 to 100,000 metric tonnes to fill the current demand gap within the country; adding that because of its growing population and low consumption of soy, Nigeria has been identified as a market that represents a growth opportunity for U.S. soy as it could emerge as U.S. soy’s top three growth markets by 2030.
Roekpe, whilst answering a question concerning the sort of policies and regulations that can be generated and enforced by African governments in order to upscale the continent’s agriculture value chain, told of the lack of credit and underutilisation of GSM credit guarantees, which have been long-standing constraints on sales of U.S. soy products to Africa. As part of its initiative to develop the multimillion-tonne market for U.S. soy in Africa, USSEC brought together key stakeholders this past September to address the credit issue head-on.
“On September 30, Nigerian banks, leading Nigerian supply chain executives, and Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) administrators came together with U.S. soy industry representatives from USSEC and the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH), during a virtual roundtable to discuss barriers to the use of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) credit guarantee programmes in Nigeria and other emerging African markets. USDA export credit guarantee programmes can help make commercial financing available for imports of U.S. soy and other food and agricultural products on deferred payment terms.
“The work of the U.S. soy industry, coupled with the plans to train and educate the soy value chain through the Soy Excellence Centre (SEC), and USSEC’s ongoing relationship management efforts bodes well in the long run for the import of U.S. soy as demand continues to out-strip supply. The Protein Pull work and the training coming via the SECs are working hand-in-hand to help Nigerians realise their protein needs,” he added.
According to him, the agriculture value chain and farmers have weathered some of the world’s most difficult seasons and obstacles but survived and overcame. The last few years have been some of the most challenging on record, but farmers maintain their commitment to doing everything they can to provide soy for food, fibre, fuel and other products.
Kurt Shultz, senior director of global strategies, U.S Grains Council said, providing technical, economic and logistical assistance is at the heart of the U.S. Grains Council’s long-term strategy in Africa, where the United Nations estimates demand for meat, milk and eggs will quadruple by 2050s; so, events like the African Trade Exchange are also an important part of our plan to solidify and build relationships in the region.
Also speaking during the virtual conference, Liz Hare, executive director of WISHH said, “WISHH has 20 years of proven experience working with African entrepreneurs who join us in recognizing the importance of protein for Africa’s food security, as well as the economic opportunities it provides for businesses. This conference was testament to U.S. soybean farmer commitment to supplying high-quality protein to the African continent.”
Clay Hamilton, associate administrator and general sales manager for the Foreign Agricultural Service on his part said: “We have remained dedicated, ourselves, to the African continent. This is a tremendous region. It continues to grow and there is so much opportunity here. For us, there are three areas we are focused on: trade policy, technical support, and market development. There is a lot going on with Africa, and this venue is a great opportunity to learn about that and how we can make trading productive.”