As the world’s fifth most populous country with a population of around 241.5 million people, Pakistan is continually looking for ways to maintain or increase food production and reduce the protein gap. In 2011, The World Bank in conjunction with the American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (ASA/WISHH) program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), launched a model project, called FEEDing Pakistan, to demonstrate the benefits of using soy-based, floating fish feed to farm tilapia in Pakistan. For this pilot project, an Extru-Tech extruder was selected as the key piece of technology for the production of aquafeed.
According to Liz Hare, deputy director WISHH at that time, when the FEEDing Pakistan pilot project was launched in Pakistan there was no locally manufactured soy-based floating fish feed, no commercially farmed tilapia, and no private-sector fish hatcheries in Pakistan. According to Hare, the key factors of success of the FEEDing Pakistan project included the partnership and vision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, NGOs (ASA/WISHH) and government organizations (Government of Pakistan), a strong local private sector partner, selecting the proper technology (Extru-Tech Extruder), the proper ingredients (soy), a suitable species of fish (tilapia) and the willingness of the local farmer to learn and adopt the new techniques.
In the decade since this pilot project, aquaculture has emerged as a dynamic economic sector in Pakistan that has the potential to create new industries, and jobs and provide nutrition/food in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner. As the Blue Economy program is further adopted, it could chart a new course for Pakistan’s economic future – and the future of many other economies around the world.
Seminar on extrusion and feed technology
On August 22, 2023, as the next critical step to the growth in this sector, a seminar was convened on the Principles of Extrusion and Technology for Feed and Food Production, sponsored by Extru-Tech, Inc., in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Pakistan Extru-Tech Extruder Technology Seminar and Forum, the first-of-its-kind event was held in Lahore, Pakistan and focused primarily on aquafeed and pet food. The event, which included Extru-Tech staff of extruder experts in attendance and others presenting via video link, was also partially funded by the Kansas Department of Commerce State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).
According to Dr. Zahid Yaqub, international representative for Extru-Tech, Inc., based in Pakistan, over 120 people attended the opening session of the seminar, including multiple journalists and media. Dr. Yaqub added that Extru-Tech worked with the US Commerce Department through their Single Company Promotion Program to specifically invite select Pakistani companies, who received official invitations through the U.S. Embassy.
“We had a continued large attendance at the final session,” Yaqub related. “All of them either operated a fish feed facility or were involved directly or indirectly with fisheries. That included the director general of Fisheries and Aquaculture from the country’s two most populous provinces, a couple of project directors of the Fisheries Development Board and significant representation from individuals from the universities’ academia community.”
“Almost all of the attendees came up to me afterward to express their appreciation of the contents, quality, depth of knowledge and expertise of each of the presenters and the presentation itself,” he added. “During the break, a couple of corporate representatives even expressed an interest in diversifying to aquaculture or pet food after they complete an in-house study.” Dr. Yaqub said the chairmen of three of the country’s largest poultry companies were also in attendance, taking notes through much of the seminar.
As Dr. Yaqub relates, developing countries like Pakistan are particularly interested in acquiring the flexibility to change aquafeed products as their business evolves, without the need for significant capital expenditures. Meanwhile, pet food manufacturers are not only looking at production to meet a growing market but also technology that allows them to safely incorporate fresh meats and high proteins. Dr. Yaqub stressed that Extru-Tech has products to address both issues and a proven track record of quality and reliability in Pakistan and markets around the world.
In addition, the attendees learned about the technical side of extrusion through presentations by Bob Anan and Dana Nelson. Ken Hutman presented the financing options for purchasing extruders and related equipment, noting that multiple financing opportunities are available from the US Export Import Bank (Ex-Im) and the International Financial Corporation (IFC) as well as other sources, to make such purchases both affordable and economical.
Thanks to the success of the most recent Pakistan Extru-Tech Extruder Technology Seminar and Forum, a second Pakistan event is already being scheduled for Spring 2024.