JOHANNESBURG – The world’s largest fly farm is about to open in South Africa as part of an initiative to produce sustainable feed for chicken and fish.
Industrial farmed chicken and fish eat fish meal, which is bad for the environment because it depletes already fragile fish resources. To create 1 kilogram of high-protein fish meal, for example, it takes 4.5 kilogrammes of smaller pelagic fish such as anchovies and sardines, according to Time Magazine.
The cost of fish meal is also rising with increased demand for fish. Fish meal sold for less than $500 (M5 436) a tonne in the early 2000s, but last year it peaked at $2,400 a tonne, according to Bloomberg.
But AgriProtein, a South African farming company, has a solution. AgriProtein produces MagMeal — animal feed that is made from fly larvae that feeds on waste. The benefit of MagMeal is two-fold: It offers a sustainable, natural source of protein for farmed animals (there’s no shortage of flies), and at the same time, helps to eliminate garbage.
In 2012, AgriProtein received funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support its insect-based protein product and the company’s commitment to waste solutions.
“It is not different from what already happens in nature,” Jason Drew, the founder and director of AgriProtein said.
“The anomaly is what we do now — 30 percent of the fish we take is not consumed by humans, but rather fed to fishes or chickens. I mean, if a chicken was meant to eat fish it would be called a seagull.”
AgriProtein, founded in 2009, started building its first industrial-scale factory in May 2014. The plant, which can house more than eight billion flies and produce 22 tonnes of larvae every day, is set to open next month, according to Drew.
How it works
Common flies are harvested with organic waste, such as food leftovers from supermarkets and restaurants and remains from slaughterhouses. The flies lay their eggs in the waste, and these eggs rapidly turn into larvae, eating the waste as they grow. The BBC calculated that one kilogramme of eggs becomes 380 kilogrammes of larvae in just three days.
After a few days, before they become flies, the larvae are collected, washed, and pressurised into MagMeal, which can be delivered to chicken barns and fish farms.
Opening a new fly farm costs about M86 million, but the investment would be amortised very quickly since the operational costs are low. AgriProtein already has an agreement with Cape Town’s waste disposal agency, helping them to sort out what to do with the garbage of a city of four million.
AgriProtein raised M119 million from private backers to help build its latest commercial farm. – Business Insider.