WISHH Perspectives

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World Food Prize Winner & Nutrition Discussions Align with WISHH’s Aquaculture Leadership

ASA/WISHH congratulates Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, Ph.D., as the World Food Prize 2021 recipient. The Iowa-based World Food Prize held a virtual announcement on May 11 where they celebrated Thilsted’s pioneering global leadership in aquaculture development for human nutrition.

Thilsted is the Global Lead for Nutrition and Public Health at World Fish, an international aquaculture innovation institute. During the announcement, Thilstead summarized that she hopes the global narrative will shift from a focusing on “feeding” to prioritize “nourishing a growing global population.”

WISHH shares Thilsted’s recognition of the important role of aquaculture and has led multiple innovative projects to advance aquaculture on three continents. More than a decade ago, WISHH identified an opportunity to reduce the protein gap in Pakistan through improvements to the aquaculture industry. From 2010-2015, WISHH led the U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded FEEDing Pakistan Project to work within the feed value chain. The project resulted in an increased quality supply of soy-based aquaculture feed through improved production efficiency, which ultimately provides consumers access to safe, affordable fish protein.

Currently in Cambodia, WISHH leads a USDA-funded project, Commercialization of Aquaculture for Sustainable Trade (CAST) – Cambodia. The project is designed to accelerate production of high-demand fish species for the Cambodian market and develop a lasting aquaculture industry. CAST strengthens local production of high-quality feed and fish. Through CAST, Cambodia’s private sector and universities work closely with U.S. soybean growers and businesses, as well as academic and non-governmental organizations.

WISHH is also providing virtual training and more for African aquaculture entrepreneurs to capitalize on the important economic and nutritional opportunities from aquaculture. For example, WISHH is leading a feasibility study of a new fish feed mill to supply several of the French-speaking countries in West Africa. Using USDA Agricultural Trade Promotion funding, WISHH commissioned an African aquaculture expert to evaluate the regional demand for fish feed, analyze distribution channels, and assess the region’s ability to develop into a significant aquaculture producer.

Underscoring the importance of this aquaculture development is a new report, which the World Food Prize event also highlighted during their May 11 announcement on Thilsted as the 2021 World Food Prize laureate. The United Nation’s discussion paper “The Role of Aquatic Foods in Sustainable Healthy Diets” emphasizes the importance of aquatic diets for protein, essential micronutrients, and fatty acids and reports that 3.3 billion people depend on fish and fish-based products for nutrition.

WISHH remains committed to ensuring that U.S. soy plays a role in delivering improved nutrition to people through the growth of global aquaculture systems.

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