How the Black Soldier Fly larvae reduces ecological and economic footprint of livestock feed in Africa

January 29, 2020.  

In Africa, livestock production currently accounts for about 30% of the gross value of agricultural production. However, production is struggling to keep up with the demands of an expanding human population, rise in urbanization and associated shifts in diet habits. High cost of feed prevents the livestock sector from thriving and meeting rising consumer demand. In recent years, researchers identified insects as potential alternatives to the conventionally used protein sources in livestock feed.

The ZEF researcher 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.
A laboratory experiment with three different organic substrates, i.e. chicken manure, brewers’ spent grain and kitchen waste, showed that commonly available organic waste streams in urban environments of the developing world can 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. Wide-scale application of this approach would greatly reduce the ecological and economic footprint of feed to an enormous extent, thereby contributing to more sustainable animal husbandry systems. Moreover, it could 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 larvae should be developed. Kenya and Uganda recently approved dried insect products for use in all animal and fish feed. Following in their footsteps, a regional African insect feed policy that ensures safe production within adequate hygiene standards could be introduced.

Excerpt from article in “The nutritive value of black soldier fly larvae reared on common organic waste streams in Kenya” with first author Marwa Shumo, doctoral researcher at ZEF. Read the full article here:
Read more about Marwa Shumo's research in her blog posts at


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