August 23 and 24
Karl and I stepped off our 16 hour non-stop flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg, South Africa where we were greeted by a lovely, cool breeze. August is winter in South Africa. It was so refreshing after being cooped up in the stale air of the flight to feel the winter air. We then connected with a much shorter flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town. It was a pleasure to arrive in our hotel and see many of the Soy Innovations Africa conference participants and have the opportunity to greet each other before turning in for a night's rest.
The purpose of the Soy Innovations Africa conference is to cultivate potential in emerging markets. In this case, technology, investment and new strategies for developing successful small enterprises create a powerful, unique opportunity to engage business leaders in emerging markets with the potential of the soybean. Soyatech, in collaboration with NSRL, the World Soy Foundation and Soy in Southern Africa is hosting this two day conference to bring the best global resources to bear on the challenges of efficiently utilizing the world's most complete plant protein in emerging markets around the globe.
Today we had the time to register for the conference and finish last minute details for our presentations. We were pleased to see good participation for the conference. There were representatives from all over Africa, the U.S., Brazil and Europe. We enjoyed an excellent meeting with our partners from Impilo Products on our continuing work with soy enhanced "pop", or porridge for mine workers in the extensive mine industry of South Africa. We also worked on the upcoming project with a similar approach for farm workers that work in the growing fresh fruit and vegetable agriculture industry in South Africa. These soy enhanced porridges will provide a good source of protein and nutrition for employees in these growing industries.
Karl and I were greeted by old friends and colleagues as the conference began. It was remarkable to meet so many of the graduates of the INTSOY course. The INTSOY Short Course is held at NSRL each year. Karl, as the director of the INTSOY Short Course, does a fantastic job of gathering speakers, sponsors and participants from around the world who come together for a week of education, exchange and focus on soy processing, utilization and marketing. We are looking forward to the 2011 Short Course which will be held at the University of Illinois campus from June 5-10, 2011. For more information on the course, visit www.nsrl.illinois.edu/INTOSY/courses/index.html.
We were given the opportunity to present the unique work NSRL and the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) is doing with soy products in our international development work. We especially focused on the efforts with soy in developing micro enterprises and small- to medium-sized enterprises as a part of the developing value chain and a way to encourage the use of healthy soy. My presentation describing NSRL's global activities was well received. As is often the case, NSRL was the only university-based organization promoting soybean processing and utilization. Later that evening we enjoyed a nice meeting with our friends from Soy Southern Africa and Insta Pro. It was great to learn of the enthusiasm for Soy Southern Africa and wonderful to hear that they had gained 20 new members for their organization during the conference.
We enjoyed another valuable day of the conference with great presentations on soy food products in Africa from karl, presentations on soy milk, soy usage in animal feed and even local soy production. That evening we also enjoyed a meeting with our friends from Soy Afric and the team from Soyatech. We worked on plans for the upcoming 2012 International Soy Processing and Utilization conference.
We returned to the hotel to pack up and plan for our travel the following morning to Accra, Ghana.
We said goodbye to our friends in South Africa and the beautiful weather in Cape Town. It is a lovely city with beautiful views of the harbor and a wonderful winter season. When we landed in Accra, we knew we had entered the Africa we are most familiar with. The heat was back, as were the crowds and general confusion at the luggage carousels. We were happy to leave our long flight behind. I was thiking back to my middle school geography lessons and remembering how large of a continent Africa truly is. It was a short night ahead of us but we were grateful for the overnight rest and looking forward to our travel to Sierra Leone.