Insect farming has quickly gained traction in Africa. This has particularly been the case amongst the youth, as a means of producing livestock and aquaculture feeds, as well as organic fertilizers. Insects are preferred because they put less strain on land and water, have a low carbon footprint, have high nutritional value, and are a valuable source of livelihood for many families.
Black Soldier Fly farming is one common option and it is mostly used to recycle organic waste into high-quality proteins and fat for livestock feed, as well as organic fertilizer for crop production. The World Bank estimates up to $2.6bn of annual revenue is generated from its crude protein and biofertilizer respectively.
In Ghana, local poultry farmers have been struggling to compete with cheap imports of animal feed and high production costs. To save farmers from losses, Prosect Feed Ltd developed a unique way of converting organic waste into affordable poultry feed using insect larvae.
Earlier in the year, Generation Africa Secretariat, led by Amanda Namayi and Sophie Nabuliri, ypaid a visit to Nana Yaw Antwi-Boasiako, Founder of ProSect Feed Ltd, Ghana, and a finalist in the 2021 GoGegettaz Agripreneur Competition. During their visit, they gained valuable insights on the bioconversion process of organic waste to feed the larvae . This model ensures that, in addition to providing farmers an affordable alternative for their feed, households and farmers also make income from the waste generated.
AtProsect Feed, all organic waste collected is placed in a solar-powered drying tent to remove moisture. The waste is completely dried and milled into powder before it’s stored in hermetic sacks or plastic storage units. This ensures that there is no stench or moisture that attracts pests or supports breeding insects like houseflies. Frass is also sold as organic fertilizer to vegetable and fruit farmers. This process ensures the production has an environmentally-friendly effect.
The startup specializes in the production of black soldier fly larvae, which has a protein content of about 58%, the same as fish meal and a rival to soybeans depending on the scale of production.
Providing value for farmers
To provide more value for farmers, ProSect Feed Ltd launched its out-grower scheme, which operates by training farmers on adequate handling of waste as well as health and safety procedures to follow in monetizing waste production, which has always been a nuisance to them in the past.
After the training, ProSect Feed Ltd continues to buy waste from them on a monthly basis to convert into protein, providing them with additional sources of income that may be used to pay their workers. The frequent interaction with farmers enables them to get instant feedback.
Today, the startup has created over 26 jobs, with a client base comprising poultry farmers. Plans are underway to serve fish and pig feed markets as they scale. The larvae meal is majorly sold through leaders of farmer-based organizations who act as distributors, providing additional income and incentives to these leaders.
“Our competitive advantage lies in the quality assurance and affordability given to farmers. Our 58% protein is only rivaled by fish meal which other competitors are unable to achieve. To consolidate our position in the market, we hope to use our strong ties built through our out-grower scheme to create farmer loyalty as well as give them as a source of income,” says Nana Yaw Antwi-Boasiako.
Logistics is one of the challenges faced by ProSect Feed Ltd especially when sourcing for waste from multiple sources. To address the funding issue, the startup has a clearly defined production processes and systems with its key product ready for the market.
It is promising to see emerging agri-startups led by youth in Africa venture into insect farming leading to a mindset shift on its consumption (value-added products) and increased awareness of the benefits of insect farming in the agriculture sector; However, there is a need for lawmakers to introduce legislation on safeguarding a safe and sustainable insect food industry that is hampering commercialization in various countries.
Generation Africacontinues to fulfill its mandate of strengthening Africa’s ecosystem for youth agripreneurs by supporting them to successfully grow their agribusiness from idea to scale, providing continued support to sustain growth, supporting scaling of various agri-food opportunities, and linking them to opportunities to increase their investments.