Nebraskan Jim Stewart was part of a trade mission that recently signed an agreement with Guatemala to help that nation feed its people.
Stewart represented the Nebraska Soybean Board in a delegation with the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH). WISHH and the American Soybean Association (ASA)/Mexico City are pledging to increase soy proteinâ€™s role in feeding Guatemalans.
The delegation, which included farmers from Nebraska, Illinois and North Dakota, met with officials of the newly elected government of Guatemala. The country has been hit with several years of drought, a drastic decline in earnings from coffee and a previous government that mismanaged the economy, Stewart says. As a result, governments are considering various solutions to improve nutrition and provide opportunities for economic activity.
The delegation visited a pilot project, managed by CARE, that is testing soy drinks produced locally with imported U.S. soy. Local women or community organizations will set up small businesses to provide this economical form of protein to the local market and generate income, he explains. The group also visited a rural school and community center, supported by Caritas and Food for the Poor, where school feeding is supporting the nutrition of local families.
Food for the Poor has received a grant from USDA and will assist 600 groups like these, with an array of nutritional products containing soy, including textured soy protein, corn/soy blend and soybean oil.
The Guatemalan government is enthusiastic about working with U.S. organizations and the private sector to reestablish national feeding programs and try new ideas, perhaps with U.S. government food aid or foreign assistance.
"This CARE pilot project," says Stewart, "which includes processing U.S. soy protein into simple local drinks, is the kind of effort that will improve nutrition, increase rural income and economic activity and provide a new market for Nebraska grown soybeans and U.S. soy protein as a whole."