WISHH Perspectives

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World Fisheries Day Video: Building an Association

WISHH salutes the leaders of the new Cambodian Aquaculturist Association (CAA) as we recognize World Fisheries Day on Nov. 21. Launched Sept. 22, 2020, the young association has already achieved progress that aligns with the Cambodian government’s goals for economic growth and nutrition, as well as COVID-19 response strategies.

The establishment and development of an aquaculture association is foundational to our long-term strategy in the U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded Commercialization of Aquaculture for Sustainable Trade (CAST) project. WISHH is a program of the 100-year-old American Soybean Association, so we have deep roots in the strategic leadership that an association can bring to its members. CAST offers a systematic approach to develop a new industry association.

Watch CAST’s new video that features CAA Chairman Sok Raden, who describes the three goals that CAA’s members used to lay its foundation, and how CAST supports the association with technical assistance and more.

In its first two months, the CAA’s ranks swelled to 163 fish farmers, hatchery owners, feed manufacturers and distributors, as well as other key members of a growing market system for aquaculture. The Royal Government of Cambodia’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries His Excellency Veng Sakhon has emphasized CAA’s importance to the Ministry’s initiatives to grow the quantity and quality of Cambodia’s aquaculture production.

CAA has already hosted its first trade show to exhibit products, creating new linkages between buyers and sellers. “The event raised awareness of how important the aquaculture industry is and showed unity that it is recognized and supported,” says CAA Board Member Reth Chanthavy from Apsara Agri Supplies. She is an ADM customer and distributor of fish feeds made with U.S. soy who says, “Aquaculture farmers are not alone anymore.”

A Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Aquaculture Branch technical paper released in January 2020 drew a key conclusion: “What is clear is that the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and hatchery operators can be improved by being associated.”

In our view, FAO’s Food Outlook released Nov. 12, 2020, reinforces the importance of aquaculture associations to lead innovative efforts and strengthen opportunities that support COVID-19 resilience. “FAO projects that global aquaculture production is now expected to fall, for the first time in many years, by some 1.3%. …The market effects of the pandemic have brought about several far-reaching changes, many of which are likely to persist in the long term.”

We are responding to these aquaculture challenges in Africa as well as Asia. In 2020 alone, our aquaculture programming reached eight African countries and laid the foundation for more in 2021.

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