USGC's Tunisia Trade Team lab
The short course at the Northern Crops Institute included hands-on activities that put knowledge gained in-classroom into use. Photo courtesy of USGC.
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Eleven Tunisian feed industry professionals left Fargo, North Dakota, U.S., last week armed with the education and experience needed to become trainers themselves — all part of the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) goal of helping local producers modernize the feed and livestock industries in Tunisia and across the Middle East and Africa.

The USGC is utilizing a grant provided by the U.S. State Department to create a Center for Feed Manufacturing in Tunisia, in conjunction with the Tunisian National Institute for Agronomy (INAT), Iowa State University and the Northern Crops Institute. By the end of the 18-month grant, the USGC expects the center to be self-sufficient, with this core group of locals providing comprehensive, in-depth trainings on feed manufacturing coupled with hands-on, technical education to approximately 100 feed professionals in Tunisia.

The team traveled to Iowa and North Dakota in July 2018, where members participated in short courses and training programs at Iowa State University and the Northern Crops Institute as well as a farm visit organized by the North Dakota Corn Utilization Council. The group gained knowledge in feed manufacturing as well as practical experience in how to conduct trainings themselves.

Ramy Taieb USGC's Middle East Africa director
Ramy Taieb, USGC regional director for the Middle East and Africa

“To ensure our train-the-trainers program has the farthest-reaching impact on the Tunisian feed industry, the Council specifically sought to partner with leading U.S. agricultural institutions,” said Ramy Taieb, USGC regional director for the Middle East and Africa. “Iowa State University and the Northern Crops Institute both have faculty expertise in animal nutrition and feed manufacturing to not only strengthen the operations of the Tunisian feed professionals who attended these trainings, but also the Tunisian feed industry as a whole.”

This particular program took advantage of the Northern Crop Institute’s on-campus feed production center, which houses similar training equipment to the one planned for Tunisia, scheduled to be up and running by October.

“The on-site courses at Iowa State and the Northern Crops Institute provided our core group of trainers with the knowledge, teaching materials, training exercises and practical experience necessary to conduct their own trainings at the Tunisian feed center,” Taieb said. “The training also furthered team member experience using the feed equipment they will use starting this fall.”

Prior to traveling to the United States, team members participated in a mandatory, five-week online course on feed manufacturing, which established a base level of understanding of core concepts for poultry, ruminant and aquaculture nutrition. On-site, team members discussed more in-depth topics, including managed stored grain, feed ingredient handling, extrusion, pelleting, feed plant design and energy conservation.

Team members said they appreciated the hands-on training components of the course, which included practical exercises in the feed mill. At the end of the program, team members also were required to present an outline of a multi-day training on a selected topic to demonstrate their learning.

“Hands-on activities allowed team members to put the knowledge gained in-classroom into use,” Taieb said. “These exercises also required them to collaborate with other team members, sharing the skills they had learned with one another, and gain experience teaching within a feed mill — something they will be required to do in Tunisia.”

Now back home, team members are expected to relay the information and knowledge learned on feed formulation suggestions, feed mill layout and structure and other topics to their respective operations. Select team members also will prepare to train their first group of feed industry professionals in late fall 2018 with the remainder of the team scheduled to conduct their trainings in February 2019.

“As these individuals begin to conduct their own trainings in Tunisia, the Council and our university partners will continue to support them and facilitate the growth of this program,” Taieb said.

The USGC said it intends to expand the Tunisian center to be a regional training effort for the Middle East and Africa, as a means to address inefficiencies in regional feed production and to stimulate future growth in feed demand with the goal of increasing demand for U.S. corn, barley, sorghum and co-products.