The Recycler is currently scaling up its maggot factory that uses native insects to eat organic waste. These insects are then dried out to be used as feed. The company will be starting feed trails this year for feed in aquaculture. We have also created a household bin for residents to grow their own protein feed from their organic waste. We hope to roll out an affordable bin by the end of 2017.
The global population is growing and urbanizing at unprecedented rates, it is now estimated that the global population will reach 9.1 billion by 2050. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has stated that in order to sustain such a huge and increasingly wealthy population, world food production will need to rise by 70%. The only problem is we may not have enough resources for that.
Producing meat take a lot of input. For instance, in order to produce 1 kilogram of meat it takes anywhere between 2 – 7 kilograms of grain feed depending on the livestock. Chickens require double the amount of grain than the meat they produce, in cattle it takes around 7 kilograms of input of grain to produce 1 kilogram of weight gain. Nearly 40% of all grain produced in the world is fed to animals.
To grow some of the grains needed to feed our desire for meat, large swathes of Amazonian forest are being cleared. Using just soy as an example, researcher estimate that millions of hectares of forests have been cleared putting species at risk of extinction. There was 113 million hectares used to grow the soy produced in 2013/2014, which is an area the size of the UK, France and Germany combined. Around 75% of all that soy was used as animal feed.
In 2010, agricultural production accounted for 70% of the global freshwater consumption. More than half of all this agricultural production goes towards feeding livestock in the form of grain feeds; maize, wheat, soy, etc. Studies have shown that at the current rate of consumption, there will not be enough available fresh water to irrigate croplands to feed estimated populations in 2050.
Moreover, in 2012, around 85% of global fish stocks were over-exploited, depleted, fully exploited or in recovery from exploitation. One way around this would be to stop depleting the natural supply of fish and start to farm fish commercially as we do with other livestock. However, the current feed for farmed fish is made up almost entirely of other fish. Some fish require as much as 1-8 kilograms of wild fish to create 1 kilogram of farmed fish.
To be concise, the world’s growing population, combined with its insatiable desire for beef, poultry and fish is unsustainable. We need another way to feed livestock.
Of the feeds currently fed to chickens, pigs and farmed fish, they all require high levels of protein. At the moment that protein comes from Soybeans or Fish Meal. The inputs to produce both of these consume natural resources and are being consumed at an unsustainable rate.
The United Republic of Tanzania is experiencing rapid population growth and urbanization. Its largest city, Dar es Salam is on its way to megacity status as the ninth fastest growing city in the world (City Mayors, 2010). Located on the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean the city also has the potential to be one Africa’s most beautiful. However, Dar es Salaam continually finds itself ranked as one of the dirtiest cities in the world. Waste management is a grave problem in Dar es Salaam with the United Nation’s report on the city’s sanitation and waste management declaring it as ‘well below average’ (Siemens 2010). With an estimated 70% of waste classified as organic, there is a need for waste solutions.
Another grave problem is overfishing. Right now Africa’s biggest lake, Lake Victoria is in a terrible state from overfishing, industrial pollution, use of illegal fishing gear and the dumping of human waste. The story in the ocean is not much better. Tanzania is the only country in Africa where dynamite fishing still occurs on a large scale. Besides killing and injuring fish, dynamite fishing also decimates the ecosystem where fish live and breed.
In spite of the poor state of the fisheries in Tanzania, fishmeal is by far the main protein ingredient used for chicken feed in the country. In fact, the price of fishmeal has steadily risen in the past two years due in part to the difficulty in the supply side. A rise in fishmeal means a rise in the price of chicken and other proteins that are needed in the country to combat the high levels of undernourished in the country.
We believe that we have a solution that can deal with these problems with a more sustainable and cost-effective approach. And it all comes down to a fly.
The Hermetia illucens or Black soldier fly (BSF) is an insect native to Tanzania that can consume as much as 70% of its own body, weight in waste every day. For every 1kg of waste (organic) it consumes, 50 grams of protein are produced. This protein can act as a feed supplement that has been fed successfully to commercial livestock. The larvae of this fly are spectacular in their ability to consume waste and renowned for their easy handling. The Recycler and our partner, Kigen Compton, is currently running a project in Tanzania that is breeding these larvae and testing ways it can replace grains for meat on a commercial level. We hope to be producing BSF on a commercial scale by the end of 2015.