In a quiet, mainly residential area in Kirinyaga, trays of writhing Black Soldier Flies (BSFs) larvae munch their way through hundreds of kilograms of food and farm waste a day. By converting organic waste into protein, this miracle insect helps lower Carbon emissions and replace environmentally damaging fertilizers.
The protein-rich maggots are sold for pet food or fertilizer to local farmers as a remedy to overcome the cost of expensive animal feeds and fertilizers. The Kenyan company behind this innovative idea is Dudu Masters. Its major aim is to help farmers rear maggots as a natural and sustainable alternative that costs 30 percent lower, making farming viable.
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The BSFs help us transform food waste which is an environmental hazard into a positive value-product that helps farmers increase their productivity, says Jannifer Muthike, Dudu Master’s founder.
Jannifer says they use the BSFs because their maggots contain more protein fat and micro-nutrients than normal houseflies and are easily dried and stored. In addition, their ability to consume any kind of food waste and their speed and efficiency at transforming that waste into body mass is of much importance.
The ability of the BSF to convert organic waste into high quality nutrients has opened up a ground-breaking prospect for the production of animal feeds and fertilizer at a low cost.
There is a big opportunity for us to manage organic waste and manufacture animal feeds at the same time. All we lack is finances to train more farmers to embrace the technology, the entrepreneur explains.
Another advantage of using BSFs is that unlike houseflies, they are not vectors to disease and have a much shorter life cycle. Their larvae feed on organic matter and can be fed on a variety of organic waste substrates such as food waste of vegetables, fruits, slaughterhouse waste, post-harvest waste until the larvae are mature.
Jannifer has trained more than 15 farmers in Kenya in the past one year, whose uptake although slow, has seen tremendous growth on their farms. The entomologist says that the uptake of the technology is however slow due to lack of knowledge among most farmers, something she is ready to defy through her online training classes.
“Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we are not able to conduct our training sessions and demos physically on the farm. We are currently working to set up online training on the use of the BSFs on the farm and a step by step guide on how to set up facilities,” she explains.
According to Jannifer, the use of insects to produce feeds is cost effective and offers farmers a chance to enjoy relatively bigger profit margins. However, to get the feeds from the insects, she says the farmer should be committed to go the whole route of catching and domesticating the BSFs, then later harvesting their eggs which are grown until their larvae stage.
“At Dudu Masters, we do all the ‘dirty work’ for you. All you provide us is the space,” she adds. The startup hopes to train more farmers, both locally and internationally, to uptake the BSF technology for the production of the feeds and fertilizers.
Besides the movement restrictions imposed by the government to curb the pandemic, Jannifer says that their growth journey has been slow due to lack of finances. She is hopeful however, that Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC) will come to her rescue and help scale up her business.