Dar es Salaam. Soy and fishmeal are main protein sources for chickens and fish by farmers.
But they are costly. Although the government exempted value added tax on the locally produced poultry feeds, still prices are extremely high.
Globally the use of insects as a viable animal feed has been increasing due to their high energy and protein content, but they are also costly and unsustainable.
BioBuu Limited, an insect company based in Tanzania, has been using larvae of black soldier flies (BSF) for recycling nutrients in food waste to get proteins for feeding chickens and fish.
BSF are native to Tanzania.
The firm stated that since poultry and fish farmers incur a high cost on feeds, the use of BSF larvae makes production cheaper by 25 per cent.
That will increase the production chickens and eggs.
The firm’s chief executive officer, Mr Kigen Compton, said the insects produce larvae which consume organic waste.
“After the insects produce the eggs, they hatch larvae that naturally feed on decaying organic matter, which we collect from market places,” Mr Compton told The Citizen at Vikindu, Coast Region.
Organic waste is usually broken down by other organisms over time and may also be referred to as wet waste. This is what the larvae do; they consume the waste and absorb the nutrients.
Mr Compton said: “The newly hatched small larvae are then fed with the organic waste until they consume enough nutrients and became grown, then they are harvested, dried and became ready for the use as poultry feeds.”
But the larvae don’t consume all of the organic waste, the facility use the leftovers as organic compost which is also offered as another individual product by BioBuu.
“As the insects eat the waste, they turn it into very good compost. Biobuu has been trying this out with farmers all across Tanzania,” noted the firm’s commercial director, Mr Matthew Haden.
“We breeding more than 3 million of these insects every day just outside Dar es Salaam, in terms of individual animals, I would bet that would make us the biggest farm in Tanzania. Of course, our animal is a small insect,” he said.
Biobuu began to research the potential of using insects to eat waste and product animal feed in 2013. After three years of research on the breeding and feeding behaviours of the black soldier fly, the firm was registered in Tanzania and raised money for scaling into a factory. The goal was to recycle the nutrients in organic waste into a high protein feed supplement for poultry and aquaculture.
Customers are small- and medium-size farmers.
Currently, Biobuu sells primarily to small- and medium-scale chicken farmers. They can use this to replace soy and fishmeal at more affordable costs. In Tanzania, the availability of soy and the high cost of fishmeal are prohibitive to poultry and fish farmers. Mr Haden said farmers could mix dried insects with other components such as ground grains and soy to form a mixture of a desired composition that is then pressed into pallets for better and more convenient feeding to animals.
“We have a consistent price that is very competitive. We are working with poultry farmers that mix their own feed and are looking for more affordable and innovate solutions,” he noted.
The company is also in the process of doing trials with the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute for fish feeds as well.
When asked if the small holder farmers can practice this process of breeding the insects at their households Mr Haden said the firm is on its final stages in making a bin for home and farm use so Tanzanians can grow their own insects from their waste.
“Many Tanzania’s have chickens at home. We have designed a bin where you can dispose of your food waste, the insect naturally comes, lays eggs and eats your food waste. The bin will then allow the insect to crawl out and so a farmer can capture them to feed the chickens. And chickens love them,” said Mr Haden.
According to him, Biobuu has tried out the bin in different household across Tanzania, and will start selling the bins this month. “About the home bin is that our flies do not spread disease like houseflies and they actually reduce the number of houseflies in the area by up to 80 per cent.”
Benefits to environment
The recycling of the organic waste reduces pollution because when organic waste such as food rots it releases methane, which is harmful greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
“So this whole process is good for the environment, because it helps in combating the environmental pollution,” Mr Haden told The Citizen.
Also the organic compost that is being produced from the recycling process can be used by gardeners, farmers, and landscapers to grow things. Organic compost provides an alternative to chemical fertilizers, thus, in the view of many, providing a benefit to the environment.
With the growing popularity of organically-grown food, turning organic waste into compost would seem to be a win-win for everyone concerned.
BioBuu say poultry farmers have been well aware of using insect as feeds. There is more demand than supply which creates potential for the firm to expand its breeding plants across East Africa.
“We will set up a new factory in Mombasa by June this year, which will be bigger than this one in Dar es Salaam,” said Mr Haden.