Some say there are plenty of fish in the sea. In China, though, there aren’t enough fish in the ponds, and the soy checkoff is trying to help.
While China produces 61 percent of the world’s supply of aquaculture, it lacks land for aquaculture expansion. The country, where more than 1.3 billion people reside, is trying to adopt new production technologies to increase aquaculture output in the future. As it stands now, fish farmers have to rent more ponds and spend more money on feed ingredients, which cut into their profits.
In 2012, the U. S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) began working with the China Ministries of Agriculture and Environmental Protection to introduce a high-intensity production system developed in the U.S. that can be adapted to existing pond systems in China, called Intensive Pond Aquaculture (IPA). This year, the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) supported the introduction of this technology at the Pingway Fish Farm in eastern China.
“The ISA has been deeply involved over many years in increasing partnerships and soybean trade opportunities with China,” says Mark Jackson, president of ISA and a soybean farmer from Rose Hill, Iowa.
“A majority of the world’s aquaculture production and seafood demand takes place in China, but they have limitations in further expanding due to water-availability and water-quality challenges,” Jackson added. “If we can help the Chinese aquaculture industry continue to grow, that will mean an additional demand for U.S. soybeans.”
The soy checkoff and other farmer organizations recently began investing in the development of IPA system. In 2008, the U.S. Soybean Export Council, the American Soybean Association and the Soy Checkoff helped fund the development of an IPA system at Auburn University.
An IPA makes fish production more efficient and requires only minimal modification to ponds. The system increases production while also reducing energy use and production costs.