The International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) has launched a project that is to develop insect based feeds for fish and poultry farmers in Kenya and Uganda.
The CA$ 2.3 million project known as INSFEED is set to supplement the use of other inputs in the fastest growing agribusiness sector in the two countries.
“The insect feeds are expected to reduce the cost of poultry and fish production while freeing fish currently sued as fishmeal for animals to fish for human consumption,” ICIPE’s Director General Dr. Segenet Kelemu reveals.
Kelemu says the ICIPE has discovered over 500 insect species in Africa with some already contributing food and nutrition of communities.
She notes that the project will apply a series of technological interventions at production, harvesting and post harvesting stages with the involvement of public and private sector.
This will include identification of suitable insect species, assessing the potential market and nutritional attributes of the products.
“We also plan to develop an easy to adapt cost effective insect rearing, harvesting and post harvest techniques for small holder producers,” Kelemu adds.
She says that through the project ICIPE is conducting research to inform policies for promotion of safe, sustainable and cost effective use of insects in feed sector in the two East African countries.
The Sub Saharan Africa Regional Director for International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Dr. Simon Carter challenged scientists to conduct research that ends up benefiting the local people for easy sustainability.
He said that the project is promising since many people in the continent are capable of rearing the insects commercially.
“The project will spare the fish that is occasionally used in the feed industry and also contribute to the reduction of feed production costs,” he added.
The project coordinator Dr. Komi Fiaboe reveals that the project will be conducted in 12 towns in Kenya and Uganda.
“It will target Crickets, Black Soldier Flies, Grasshopper, Lake Flies, Fruit Flies, Locusts and Termites, insects that are easily available within the farming communities” he adds.
He observes that since no regulation exists in favour of developing insect feeds in the two countries, the governments will be helped to develop policies.
Faiboe notes that the project will help promote aquaculture that has performed poorly in Kenya in the last few years due to lack of fish feeds.
“The project will ensure that tests are done against the risk posed by heavy metal contents, pesticide residues and mytoxins,” he adds.
A Research Assistant at Unga Feed Limited, a leading feed manufacturing in Kenya, Phiona Gichuru confirms that the price of animal feeds had gone up in the recent past and are ready to accept insects into the feeds once approved by the governments.
“We had resorted to producing feeds from the remains from poultry such as intestines to meet the market demand,” she notes.
Gichuru observes that the market will readily accept the new feed once it becomes available and also becomes affordable.
The project is designed to ensure that women and men benefit equally when the time for commercialisation comes.
It will establish the risk factors associated with the insect based feeds along the food chain and their mitigation strategies.
The University of Nairobi, Makarere University, Egerton University, Agricultural organizations and Bureau of Standards authorities from Uganda and Kenya and the private sector are involved in the project.