Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Waste not, want not - closed-loop chicken feed system in Kenya.



Work is being done in Kenya and Uganda to improve food security by increasing protein in the local diets. And this new protein is being created in a closed-loop system using flies, larvae, solar drying and even human waste.

Chickens and fish are a critical source of protein in Kenya and Uganda. But the chickens themselves need good food, with protein and nutrients. The cost of animal feed has increased worldwide since a few years ago. But a new source of protein for chickenfeed is proving to be very effective – and cheap as well.


Believe it or not, fly larvae is proving to be a hugely important livestock feed in Kenya and Uganda. The fly larvae are high in protein, and much cheaper than the soybeans or cereals which are traditionally used to add protein to chicken feed. 
 
Black Soldier Fly larvae as chicken feed means healthier, longer laying chickens, due to the higher protein and micro nutrient levels.
Photo: Mellissa Woods

The discovery of local Black Soldier Flies in Kenya has led to great gains in the effort to improve food security through finding cheaper local feedstock for chickens and fish. And there are side benefits to the soldier fly breeding process too. The flies are actually fed on human waste, which improves sanitation by reusing this waste collected from the slums.


ACIAR is co-funding this work with our Canadian counterpart IDRC/CRDI as part of the Cultivate Africa's Future (CultiAF) program. The project is called Integrating insects in poultry and fish feeds in Kenya and Uganda (Inseed).


ACIAR’s Andrew Campbell and Mellissa Wood visited the Sanergy human dry waste reuse centre in Nairobi. ‘We saw them using the dry waste to feed Black Soldier Flies, who increase their weight massively in just 3 weeks,’ Mellissa explained. ‘After this the pupae or larvae are boiled to ensure sanitation and then solar dried and used in fish and poultry feed.’


Dry cassette toilets are placed deep inside Nairobi slums and  the waste is collected daily for reuse. The fly larvae are fed on this waste product. The larvae are then used as chicken feed to replace the traditional soy protein which had to be bought in. The soldier fly larvae is not only much cheaper, but results in healthier, longer laying chickens, due to the higher protein and micro nutrient levels. 

Photo: ACIAR
The larval biomass increases from 60g to 3kg in 3 weeks - a 50-fold increase.  With newer German technology for closely regulating temperature, humidity and daylight, they can double this level of productivity – leading to 100x increase in biomass in 3 weeks, which is extraordinarily productive compared with the weight gains of prawns, soybean or other feed protein sources. 


Chickens are the most productive livestock, which makes them very important in terms of food and nutrition security, as they are often the only assets owned by poor households, particularly women and child-headed households. So these insect-based feed systems are potentially very significant, especially in closed-loop systems like this one with obvious co-benefits for human sanitation as well as food production and livelihoods.

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By Cass Proudfoot
ACIAR

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