USGC staff, member-leaders participate in USDA ATM

By U.S. Grains Council | November 23, 2022

U.S. Grains Council staff, alongside agribusiness and producer members, recently had the privilege of participating on the USDA agriculture trade mission (ATM) to East Africa. Held in both Nairobi, Kenya, and Zanzibar, Tanzania, the ATM is an example of the USDA’s commitment to expanding and diversifying market opportunities globally for U.S. agriculture. 

More than 30 agribusinesses and farm organizations from across the U.S. participated in the program alongside USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service team. Participants were able to meet directly with customers and potential importers of their commodities and products.

“It was a great opportunity for U.S. businesses to strengthen or forge new relationships in Kenya and Tanzania, as well as regionally,” said Cary Sifferath, USGC vice president.

This mission provided a key opportunity for the Council to bring together U.S. agribusiness and producer members to see firsthand the opportunities in East Africa – a long-term region of focus for the Council. Three USGC member-leaders, USGC Secretary/Treasurer Verity Ulibarri; Jim Massey, USGC sorghum sector director; and John Hagios, vice president of feed ingredients at The Andersons and USGC Value Added Advisory Team leader, attended the ATM. While there, the leaders had the opportunity to meet with key stakeholders involved in the Council’s recently completed sorghum poultry feeding trials in Kenya. In addition, a visit to the dairy farm where the Council is looking to conduct local feeding trials with DDGS took place – Kenya would be brand new market for DDGS should market access be realized.

With a population of more than 50 million people, Kenya remains one of the leading economies in East Africa. It is generally considered the economic, commercial and financial hub of East Africa.

During the mission in Nairobi, the Council conducted a series of side visits with key partners on the ground, including with the Association of Kenya Feed Manufacturers (AKEFEMA). The Council met with AKEFEMA to discuss recent developments in the Kenya feed industry to better understand the current state of the feed and livestock industry and to discuss opportunities for U.S. feed grains use there. Commodities of keen interest in Kenya include sorghum, yellow corn and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), which can collectively serve as alternative feed grain ingredients in the market during times of shortage. Held jointly with AKEFEMA, the Council hosted a feed grains industry roundtable with more than 50 AKEFEMA members to discuss U.S. grain production and logistics as well as the nutritional advantages of using sorghum, DDGS and yellow corn in animal feed production.

“Our roundtable meeting with AFEFEMA allowed us to work on the capacity building within the Kenyan feed industry – that is a goal of AFEFEMA,” Sifferath said. “In addition, we discussed overcoming the hurdles to get U.S. feed grain products like sorghum, yellow corn and DDGS into Kenya for the feed industry to have access to these products from the U.S.”

Looking forward, the Council is excited to continue to partner with the Kenya feed industry to gain confidence and trust in U.S. feed grains. This will include moving forward with a DDGS QSP trial in Nairobi later this year as well as working with AKEFEMA to continue to support the local feed manufacturers to improve efficiencies and overall productivity through a series of feed manufacturing training programs.