WASHINGTON, DC, US — US sorghum exports are now permitted into Vietnam following a new a pest risk assessment approved by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

The commodity can be utilized in pet food, liquor and as a feed product in the aquaculture, poultry and swine industries.

This opening follows nearly five years of collaborative efforts by the US Grains Council (USGC), the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) and the National Sorghum Producers (NSP) and work with the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), as well as regulators and industry in Vietnam.

Work on a pest risk assessment became pertinent after a vessel of sorghum originally destined for China in April 2018 was diverted to Vietnam but could not be delivered because there was no pest risk assessment protocol in place.

The main challenge was establishing documentation from the industry to pass to APHIS, which then worked with Policy and Program Development on the agreement, led by the USCP and the NSP. The USGC and both sorghum groups, along with their members, worked with the FAS in Hanoi, Vietnam to complete the assessment.

For years, the USGC and the USCP have been working in country to assess potential markets for US sorghum, including feeding trials to test the viability of replacing cassava with sorghum in Pangasius, a large catfish species native to Southeast Asian diets. Annual catfish production in Vietnam alone is 2.4 million tons.

“From an initial visit in 2015 by USCP and the USGC to discover the potential for sorghum in various marketplaces, to the development of a fish feeding trial followed by the release of very positive trial results, our organizations have worked to create opportunity for US sorghum in Vietnam,” said Florentino Lopez, executive director of Sorghum Checkoff. “Of course, all this work would fall short without organizations like NSP that came in along the way to help steward the approvals needed to make it official. Our persistence has paid off, creating additional market opportunity for US sorghum farmers.”

  The groups also hosted a delegation from the MARD’s Plant Protection Division (PPD) in February to meet with representatives from the Sorghum Checkoff, FAS, APHIS and USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS). In addition to attending several meetings, the delegation visited the Port of Houston to observe grain loading and met with agribusiness representatives.

  Official approval from USDA-APHIS coupled with Vietnam’s pest risk assessment approval opens the door for Vietnam’s PPD to issue import licenses when Vietnamese importers request one for US sorghum.

“This victory is a clear example of how working together — both in industry and in governments — can lead to winners on all sides,” said Ryan LeGrand, president and chief executive officer of the USGC. “Vietnam will be able to meet its country’s grain and feed demands, and US sorghum farmers will have access to a market that has several different sectors as potential end users for their product.”