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23 Jun 2023

Can Black Soldier Fly production in East Africa live up to its potential?

F&S consultants Annelien Meerts and Laura Martinussen are currently in Kenya to do a mapping of the Black Soldier Fly (BSF) sector in East Africa. BSF production is emerging as a new agricultural sub-sector because it can be a sustainable and circular source of protein for animal feed, which is much needed in the region (more information below). However, the production of BSF is still in its infancy and knowledge on the value chain remains limited. This research will contribute to more in-depth-knowledge on what is happening in the BSF value chain in Kenya and Uganda, what actors there are and what its potential is. This research is part of the ‘Animal Feed Commercialization Project’ implemented by the Subregional Office for Eastern Africa of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with funding from Mastercard Foundation.

Annelien and Laura have spoken with various BSF producers, waste providers and users of BSF in Nakuru and Eldoret, Kenya. Some interesting preliminary results that they can share are the following:

  • Small-scale BSF producers spoken to use BSF production as a livelihood resilience strategy. It reduces feed and fertilizer costs, as they feed the larvae to their chicken and pigs and use the frass to grow their crops.
  • The majority of commercial BSF producers interviewed focus on the sales of frass which has a rapid growing demand. They do not sell large amounts of larvae yet. Reasons being: lack of awareness of BSF as alternative source of protein and limited access to processing methods (which are needed to incorporate BSF in formulated feed and reach a bigger market).
  • Users of the BSF larvae and frass are very satisfied with their quality. Farmers see their chicken an pigs quickly grow when feeding them the larvae. Crops look healthy and yields increase, even up to 100%.
  • Needs to further develop the sector include: awareness creation on the use of BSF as alternative source of protein in animal feed, accessible and affordable ways of processing BSF, structured and professional sectoral organization and access to validated information and in-depth technical training.

While the fieldwork in Kenya continues with interviews in Kisumu, Mombasa and Nairobi, fieldwork in Uganda will start next week. We hope to share the rest of our findings by the end of the summer.

Why is Black Soldier Fly (BSF) production interesting?   Increasing demand for animal products and scarcity of conventional feed ingredients have led to  more demand for sustainable and less costly alternative protein sources for animal feed. In addition, there is a move towards organic fertilizer especially because of shortages and associated price increases of fertilizers due to the Ukrainian war.   This all has increased interest in Black Soldier Fly Larva (BSFL) production. Because of their high levels of protein, fat, micronutrients, vitamins, and essential amino acids, BSFL are an excellent replacement for protein in pig, poultry, and fish feed. The by-product of the production process is frass (insect manure), a highly nutritious organic fertilizer. The production of BSFL has a small ecological footprint and contributes to a circular economy through recycling of waste, as BSFL eat various types of organic waste.

For more information please contact Annelien Meerts

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