Innovative with Insects
Creating Animal Feed by Reducing Waste in Kenya
The Black Soldier Fly (BSF), an insect common in East Africa has the ability to effectively convert organic waste into proteins. These proteins are an excellent source of animal feed. Talash Huijbers recently started her circular business Insectipro, where she sees many opportunities, not only for the future of her business, but also for other entrepreneurs in Kenya.
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Challenges in Kenya
The fast growing population and urbanization of Kenya is leading to several challenges as excessive waste and the limited supply of protein rich food. To reduce the amount of waste, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has written a draft policy and bill. The "National Sustainable Waste Management Policy” will force businesses to handle their waste in a sustainable way. This offers opportunities for innovative circular businesses. Another challenge of a growing population is feeding this population with sustainable protein rich food. Fish is a very efficient form of animal protein in terms of feed, water usage and emission. Unfortunately the production of local fish has been difficult partly due to the high prices of protein rich fish food. Talash Huijbers realized she could tackle both problems simultaneously with a circular and sustainable solution; production of the Black Soldier Fly (BSF).
The Circular Fly
The Hermetia illucens or Black Soldier Fly, an insect common in Kenya, has a spectacular ability to convert organic waste into protein and is renowned for easy handling. The larvae of the fly can consume as much as 70% of its own body weight in waste every day. For every kilogram of organic waste that it consumes, nearly 50 grams of protein are produced that can act as a feed supplement for commercial livestock such as poultry or fish. Moreover, the leftover product which remains after the decomposition process can be used as a high nitrogen organic fertilizer.
Talash grew up in Kenya on the farm of her Dutch dad and Kenyan mom. After finishing her bachelor’s degree in 'International Food and Agribusiness' at the HAS in 's-Hertogenbosch she moved back to Kenya. In November 2018 Talash started her circular business Insectipro where she creates protein rich animal feed from insects. A sector which is very new, sustainable and efficient. In her greenhouse she makes flour from larvae of the BSF. These flies eat all organic waste from local grocery stores, bakery’s and even a local beer brewer.
This large amount of waste is needed because to produce 1 ton of insect flour 6 tons of waste are required. Currently, she is still working on the production process and becoming as efficient as possible. Talash is proud and smiles when she says that "At first it took 6 weeks to go from egg to egg, but now I got the process down and it only takes 26 days!".
She already received her first inquiry for 500.000 kilo of insect flour, but she is not quite there yet. Hopefully within a few months she can start producing at a large scale. While insect flour is being made, the feces of the flies have been found to be a great fertilizer and thus everything within the cycle of the fly is being used. This business is of great value for Kenya because it will support the local economy in so many ways; as Talash says "My business will have a big impact on the Kenyan economy since it will reduce the prices of animal feed, give local farmers the ability to produce local fish, and fish and chickens, which feed on good quality protein (BSF) produce higher quality meat and eggs and thus will create a higher nutritional value and help solve food security within Kenya".
Since Talash is new within the industry and the industry is relatively new in itself as well, there are some challenges she faces like the lack of knowledge and the non-transparency of other companies.
"There is no book what tells me what to do, I have to be very innovative to create solutions from other sectors"
This requires Talash to think outside the box and thus, by copying systems from the flower and rice sector and by being creative, she is expanding her company. The future of this sector is bright, many opportunities are arising, not only for animal feed but also for human consumption. As Talash says "Before you know it we will be eating a cricket burger".
Opportunities within the Industry
The demand for animal feed ingredients in Kenya is high, currently 70% of animal feed ingredients are being imported. In 2018 legislation for the use of insect in animal feed had been introduced in Kenya. The insect feed sector is rapidly growing and a constantly changing industry. The number of animal feed mills has almost doubled since 2008. Therefore it is clear that there are many opportunities for (Dutch) businesses who are interested in circular entrepreneurship and expansion of the insect feed industry in Kenya. Moreover, new legislation and policy on waste management in Kenya offers entrepreneurs the chance to come up with new businesses like Insectipro.
To find out more about this topic please read the report written by Wageningen University and Research on business opportunities for insects in animal feed in Eastern Africa. Find the report here.