Commodities trader off to Mozambique

MONTICELLO — A Monticello commodities trader left Saturday for two weeks in Mozambique.

While in the east African country, Jim Traub will work as a volunteer for CNFA to establish a small-scale soybean processing line there.

Traub doesn't know yet exactly what that will involve, but he believes soybeans can be used to improve the diets of people there.

"We can raise the protein in their diets with soybean powder," he said. "It's very simple. It will not take a lot of money."

Traub will be working with the Faculty of Agriculture, a university in the city of Cuamba in northeast Mozambique. The university has a 740-acre farm that grows mainly corn and has some livestock.

The university is interested in establishing a soybean processing line, and Traub will develop a feasibility study for income generation related to that.

He'll do that as a volunteer for CNFA, a nonprofit group formerly known as the Citizens Network for Foreign Affairs.

The group, which eventually adopted the acronym as its name, aims to bring economic growth to less-developed parts of the world through entrepreneurship and market development. Traub will be working in its Farmer to Farmer program.

Traub, 66, learned of the opportunity from a fraternity brother who took part in a similar program elsewhere. Traub applied to CNFA in May and was accepted in late June.

CNFA will cover his travel expenses and provide housing.

A trader for Huron Commodities in Monticello, Traub is no stranger to soybeans.

He grew up in Forrest, where soybeans, corn and sunflowers are still grown on the family farm.

Plus, he's had trading experience abroad.

"I've been contracting for soybeans with farmers for 20 years and selling them to Japan," he said. "I've been selecting soybean varieties to meet certain soy food needs for the Japanese."

Traub said he has been overseas "20 to 25 times on business," but generally to developed countries and none as poor as Mozambique.

He said another CNFA volunteer recently returned from that country. That volunteer helped the university farm "get away from monoculture" and adopt a corn, soybean and pea rotation, he said.

Some of the farm's soybeans are being marketed to feed mills elsewhere in Mozambique. But Traub hopes the farm will eventually make its own soy food and get revenue from it, rather than hauling the beans hundreds of miles on unpaved roads.

The trip to Mozambique wasn't quick. Traub was scheduled to fly from Bloomington to Chicago to Frankfurt, Germany, where he had a 15-hour layover. From there, he flew to Johannesburg, South Africa, then on to Nampula and Beira, both in Mozambique. He's expected to return Sept. 23.

Traub said he's not too concerned about being away from work, even at a time when commodity prices can be volatile.

"With technology today, you can keep up a lot more than you might think," he said.

On the Web: http://www.cnfa.org

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