The United Soybean Board’s See for Yourself program, took soy-growers from the U.S. from St. Louis to China and Vietnam recently to learn about U.S. soy’s customers, the soy checkoff’s role in marketing U.S. soy to those customers, and the research being done both domestically and internationally to improve U.S. soy.
The group first visited an aquaculture facility that recently increased production by nearly 300 percent, thanks to checkoff-funded technology and the benefits of using a soy-based feed.
China produces about 60% of the world’s total aquaculture products. The farm now uses feed containing more than 60 percent soy.
Jim Zhang Aquaculture program manager for USSEC in China says Chinese Aquaculture is divided into three sectors – Fresh water – Marine – or salt water – and capture. Zhang says that the Chinese Government halted any increase in capture in 2000…
“That means from that point on, all the ag increased production has to come from aquaculture. That gives aquaculture a lot of room to increase.”
Nearly half of Chinese Aquaculture is freshwater and that segment continues to grow…
“In our aquaculture program, our focus right now is also on the freshwater. But we are not ignoring the seawater which has a lot of potential.”
The number one freshwater fish produced in China is the Grass Carp which Zhang calls an excellent soybean user. USSEC started its aquaculture program in China in 1989 with a week-long training program.
Initially – producers used a low water high density production method which was new to China which Zhang said has a thousand year history of Aquaculture…
“All China’s aquaculture at that time was not feed based, it was manure based. When we came into China the people challenged us on the fact that they have a thousand years of aquaculture history. How can the US teach us?”
To which USSEC replied that they cannot teach the Chinese how to culture fish – but they can teach how to feed them. At that time – only 30 % of cultured fish in China were fed. Thanks to the efforts of USSEC and the Soybean Checkoff – that number has risen to over 70 percent. In 2014 – China produced over 5 million metric tons of Grass Carp. And the fish food those carp eat includes a high percentage of soybean meal.