Olivia McClure, Picha, David H., Tregenza, Ivana
News Release Distributed 09/30/14
BATON ROUGE, La. – A group of about 20 food industry professionals from Kazakhstan visited the LSU AgCenter’s Food Incubator and Aquaculture Research Station on Sept. 30.
Members of the delegation work in the private food sector. They were interested in learning about processes and technology used in U.S. food production as well as the AgCenter’s research, particularly in aquaculture.
“Louisiana produces many crops that are similar to what is grown in Kazakhstan,” David Picha, director of AgCenter International Programs, told the group. “We have well-trained faculty who work with groups around the world to provide technical training, and we’re looking forward to initiating exchanges of information and personnel with you.”
Some in the group are also looking to source equipment and supplies for their food manufacturing facilities and build professional relationships for future engagements, said International Programs coordinator Ivana Tregenza.
The group toured the AgCenter Food Incubator, where incubator director Gaye Sandoz and food scientist Luis Espinoza told them about how they help small food entrepreneurs launch successful businesses. The incubator currently serves about 20 tenants, helping them with food safety, production, marketing and more.
The visitors also got a chance to sample some Tiger Pretzel Crunch, which is one of the products made by incubator tenants.
Aquaculture Research Station professor Greg Lutz discussed research and Louisiana’s aquaculture industry. Louisiana has one of the most diverse aquaculture industries in the country, he said, and the AgCenter is a leader for research that helps the industry be more cost-effective. In 2013, the Louisiana aquaculture industry was valued at $444 million.
Lutz told the visitors about how rice farmers double crop with crawfish, problems the Louisiana aquaculture industry is facing due to imports, food safety regulations in the U.S. and research on recirculating water in aquaculture systems.
The visit was arranged by LSU AgCenter International Programs with help from the International Executive Service Corps, which is a not-for-profit organization that recruits and assigns U.S. volunteer experts to assist businesses in developing countries, according to Tregenza.