Tuesday, February 22, 2011
It was 73 degrees in Guatemala City when we arrived and the sun is just beginning to set. It is always enjoyable to return to Guatemala and the excitement of the upcoming Corporate Social Responsiblity Conference adds to the anticipation of this visit.
The team from the Illinois Soybean Association(ISA) consists of: two directors - - Ms. Pat Dumoulin and Mr. Ross Prough; 11 Illinois Soy Ambassadors and four staff from the National Soybean Research Laboratory (NSRL).
This morning began with an excellent Guatemalan breakfast. There was an entire table of fresh fruits that were colorful local cuisine. I tried the cashew fruit and learned it is truly quite astringent, but I was up for a new and unique flavorful fruit. I always enjoy the local beans and plantains as did the others at the breakfast table.
After breakfast, the Nutrition Solutions for Central America Conference began with opening remarks from the Honorable Ambassador Stephen G. McFarland, United States Embassy in Guatemala. He was followed by Mr. Lus Arenales from Cargill Perry Foods. Ms. Mariana Torres, CentraRSE and Dr. Cazali, Secretary of Food Security and Nutrition, SESAN, also welcomed the many participants and shared their viewpoints about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
The conference focused on the role CSR plays in creating nutrition solutions for Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Speakers included representatives from the Guatemalan government, the U.S. Embassy, local industry officials, non-government organizations, academic institutions and U.S. soybean farmers. The U.S. soybean farmers represented the ISA, as well as soybean farmer leaders from the Qualified State Soybean boards from Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Michigan and South Dakota. Participants also encompassed regional companies with an interest in CSR. Over 150 people were in attendance which made for interesting discussion, interactive dialogue and intriguing interface among a multitude of people with common concerns for nutrition solutions.
During her presentation, Pat Dumoulin shared about the work done by ISA, the United Soybean Board, the American Soybean Association and the Qualified State Soybean Boards in the areas of research, market development, communicaitons and education. Pat also discussed the work being done in Central America by the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH). The audience thoroughly enjoyed Pat's presentation, especially when she shared photos and details about her family, her family's farming operation and their historical Centennial Farm in northern Illinois.
The NSRL team gave two presentations during the conference. The first was focused on soy's role in nutrition solutions and the second, presented by Viji Jain, focused on FortiSoyTM projects currently being completed or underway in Honduras and Nicaragua.
Conference participants found the event to be an excellent forum to exchange information, network and discover new connections for collaboration. The conference provided an avenue for local industry to join in projects, activities and opportunities that deliver nutrition solutions for Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
After the conference, the U.S. soybean farmer leaders, NSRL and WISHH representatives enjoyed a delicious dinner at a picturesque thatch-roofed restaurant featuring fantastic Central American food with a Guatemalan influence.
The group said their good nights and made plans for the second day of the conference which includes visits to nutrition project sites in Guatemala City. Our group, as well as the majority of the attendees are looking forward to the field visits where we will see first hand the difference soy makes in nutrition solutions for Central America.