The Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens)

Research on Black Soldier Fly shows amazing results.
Photo: flickr/Gail Hampshire

Insects for feed

Research on Black Soldier Fly larvae in Kenya shows their huge potential for reducing the ecological and economic footprint of livestock feed in Africa.

Black Soldier Fly larvae have the potential to substitute other animal- or plant-derived protein sources in commercial livestock feed, researchers from the Center of Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Germany, reported in July 2019.

In Africa, livestock production currently accounts for about 30 per cent of the gross value of agricultural production. However, production is struggling to keep up with the demands of expanding human populations, the rise in urbanisation and the associated shifts in diet habits.

High costs of feed prevent the livestock sector from thriving and meeting the rising consumer demand. In recent years, researchers identified insects as potential alternatives to the conventionally used protein sources in livestock feed. They assessed that insects have rich nutrients content and can be reared on organic side streams. Moreover, substrates derived from organic by-products are suitable for industrial large-scale production of insect meal.

The nutritive value of Black Soldier Fly larvae

The researchers compared the nutritive value of Black Soldier Fly larvae to three different organic substrates: chicken manure, brewers’ spent grain and kitchen waste. All sources of the tested substrates were local.

Samples of Black Soldier Fly larvae that were reared on each substrate were collected for chemical analysis after the feeding process. Samples of the Black Soldier Fly larvae and substrates were analysed for dry matter, crude protein, ether extracts, ash, acid detergent fibre, neutral detergent fibre, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, flavonoids, minerals and aflatoxins.

The laboratory experiments showed that commonly available organic waste streams in urban environments of the developing world could be successfully used to produce high quality Black Soldier Fly larvae. The larvae have the potential to substitute other animal- or plant-derived protein sources in commercial livestock feed.

Using the potential of insect products for feed

Wide-scale application of this approach would reduce the ecological and economic footprint of feed to an enormous extent, thereby contributing to more sustainable animal husbandry systems, according to researchers from ZEF. Moreover, they argue, it can provide valuable ecosystem services through the bioconversion of municipal and organic waste streams into bio-compost.

To achieve this, appropriate and cost-effective mass-rearing technologies for the Black Soldier Fly should be developed. Kenya and Uganda recently approved dried insect products for use in all animal and fish feed. Following their footsteps, a regional African insect feed policy that ensures safe production within adequate hygiene standards should be introduced.



Read full article “The nutritive value of black soldier fly larvae reared on common organic waste streams in Kenya” (SREP-18-45105).

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