So, what's the problem
Fishmeal and crops such as soya are key protein sources for animal feeds, but they are not ecologically and economically sustainable.
In West Africa, poultry farming is practised by almost all smallholder farmers. Poultry producers suffer from the increasing cost of feed (representing up to 70% of the total production costs), in particular protein sources. Smallholder farmers with scavenging poultry rarely provide the necessary quantity of protein feeds, which affects meat production and eggs, and reduces family income.
Similarly, small-scale fish farmers often feed their fish on natural feed (plankton), green leaves and agricultural by-products. The nutritional value of these feeds is low, resulting in poor yields and less income for the household.
What is this project doing?
A solution to develop sustainable household poultry farming and aquaculture systems is to use untapped local, easily available and cheap protein sources. Insects, which are a natural food source of poultry and fish, are one such source, and FAO now strongly recommends the use of insects for human food and animal feed as a tool to alleviate poverty.
This project aims to develop appropriate methods for fly larvae and termite production based on waste material. It will ensure that these innovations are safe and socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. At a later stage, we will validate and implement these innovations with farmers, and disseminate the project’s findings to stakeholders, the general public, the scientific community and policy makers.
The project is partly based on findings from an ongoing EU funded project, PROTEINSECT, where CABI and West African partners developed fly larvae production systems in Mali and Ghana, and carried out nutrition tests. Production systems are currently being established in the three project countries and tested for their suitability in the local context. Surveys assessing the use of termites are being carried out here.
Partners have also started evaluating animal and human health implications of using fly larvae as a protein source in poultry production.
Finally, the first participatory rural assessments and baseline economic assessments are being prepared, which will allow us to better evaluate and understand the current socio-economic issues and farmers’ expectations.
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Research Scientist, Risk Analysis and Invasion Ecology
Regional Coordinator – West Africa Centre
Communications Specialist, Ghana