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Insect feed for poultry, fish, and pig production in Kenya and Uganda

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The Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund (CultiAF) is a ten-year, CA$35 million partnership (AUD$37 million) between IDRC and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). CultiAF funds applied research aimed at improving food security, resilience, and gender equality across Eastern and Southern Africa.

A shortage of protein for animal feed (in terms of quantity, quality, and cost) constrains poultry, fish, and pig production, which in turn undermines efforts to meet the growing demand for animal protein in eastern and southern Africa. These challenges can be tackled in part by using insects as an alternative and sustainable protein source for animal feed.

The first phase of this project established a strong scientific basis for using insects in animal feed, demonstrated technical feasibility and economic profitability, and established standards that allow and guide the use of insects in animal feed. The second phase will build on these achievements by testing supply and scale-up options and developing gender-sensitive business models to create jobs and generate income for women, men, and young farmers.

The challenge

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the world will have to produce 200 million tonnes more meat by 2050 to feed the predicted 9.1 billion people worldwide. Meeting this increased demand requires cost-effective and socially and environmentally sustainable animal feed protein sources. However, protein additives in animal feed substantially increase the cost of feed and undermine efforts to sustainably boost animal production. The cost of feed is already prohibitive (representing 60-70% of production costs) and the increased demand for ingredients has doubled the price in the last decade.

The research

The research team will analyze and compare the outcomes of different approaches to scaling up  insect-producing business models. They will also assess the performance of insect colonies and of livestock nourished with insect-based feed in various agro-ecological zones. Policymakers, private sector actors, NGOs, and farmers will be engaged at different levels.

The research will use qualitative and quantitative research methods that involve 11,070 households and train 60 small and medium enterprises in mass insect rearing and processing for feed. The project will strengthen the capacity of 100 young men and women entrepreneurs in business skills development.

Expected outcomes

• Identify the best cost-effective, sustainable, and gender-sensitive supply chain models;

• Train 11,070 households in mass insect-rearing and processing for feed;

• Identify and recommend the best methods for scaling up, leading to a greater uptake of quality and sustainable insect production and processing for animal feed;

• Train and build capacity for 60 small and medium enterprises to farm insects;

• Publish at least 10 scientific papers;

• Develop curriculum on insect use in animal feed for universities and incubation centres;

• Train three MSc students and one PhD student;

• Increase protein availability for feed, reduce protein cost, and improve animal productivity and income generation.

Learn more about this research.