Posted on Aug 29, 2017
After years of strategic planning and vision, a new market was recently explored in Southeast Asia that shows potential to bring producers more value for their sorghum crop. The Sorghum Checkoff partnered with the U.S. Grains Council to conduct a catfish feeding trial in Vietnam, exploring the ability to use sorghum in aquaculture. Results of a study funded by the Sorghum Checkoff and conducted by the U.S. Grains Council demonstrated the ability for sorghum to be successfully substituted in traditional aquaculture feed through a catfish feeding trial in Vietnam.
Results showed no difference between sources of starch on growth performance, fillet color or physical properties of feed pellets when comparing sorghum to cassava, a traditional fish feed ingredient. U.S. sorghum also contains no tannins and contains higher protein and amino acids, showing it can benefit aquaculture diets.
"The results of the feeding trial showed great success for sorghum in aquaculture as well as the Board’s commitment to continuous strategic development and leveraging of programs with the Council," Sorghum Checkoff Executive Director Florentino Lopez said. "The results show sorghum can be a beneficial ingredient in aquaculture diets, helping provide a sustainable and growing market to U.S. sorghum producers while supplying end-users with a new, cost effective ingredient."
The idea to look to aquaculture as a new market for sorghum began in August 2015 when the Sorghum Checkoff board of directors discussed multiple opportunities to increase sorghum value and demand that would lead to direct producer impact.
"As a board, we were looking for ways to differentiate sorghum as a grain by examining some of its characteristics that could be beneficial in new markets," said Sorghum Checkoff board director Adam Baldwin, a sorghum farmer from McPherson, Kansas. "Aquaculture is a major market in Asia. It's one that has a lot of potential to bring value to sorghum producers and at the time had been untapped by the U.S."
The Sorghum Checkoff board of directors examined numerous projects with the U.S. Grains Council and determined aquaculture was a good fit. The board of directors was also very thoughtful and intentional in selecting the catfish feeding trial as a way to tap into a market that could provide consistent demand at a high value to producers.
After receiving positive results, the next step in launching this new market for sorghum is promotion. The Sorghum Checkoff and U.S. Grains Council traveled to Thailand and Vietnam August 26 - September 2 to promote the inclusion of sorghum in aquaculture. The group attended the Vietfish 2017 conference and trade show, hosting seminars and providing research to aquaculture industry members. Vietnam is a rapidly growing and energetic marketplace that offers U.S. sorghum producers potential entry into a new, high-value market.
"With such positive research results, we are now ready to educate potential buyers about the benefits of U.S. sorghum and the process of including it in aquaculture nutrition programs," Lopez said. "With education and promotion, sorghum has a great potential to make an impact in this market."
The Sorghum Checkoff is excited about new opportunities for sorghum internationally, and the results of this fish feeding trial are a major win in the creation of new high-value markets. The Sorghum Checkoff is dedicated to committing the time and effort in pursuing further opportunities that will ultimately bring back value and profitability to the producer.