Insect-for-feed: The AU-based FLYgene project holds national workshops in Kenya and Uganda to engage stakeholders of the entire value-chain
Funded by DANIDA, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the FLYgene project organized two national stakeholder workshops in Kampala (Uganda) and Nairobi, (Kenya) in November. The workshops brought together the various actors and stakeholders along the insect-for-feed value chain including smallholder black soldier fly (BSF) farmers, large-scale BSF companies, feed processors, waste management firms, government agencies, private extension agents and researchers.
The overall objective of the two workshops was to sensitize stakeholders to the activities of the project planned for the coming five years, and to stimulate synergy between the various stakeholders towards the common goal of strengthening the emerging sector. In their opening remarks during the workshops in the two countries, officials in the partner universities and the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) stressed the importance of the emerging insect farming sector in the circular bioeconomy amid a changing climate and population explosions. Representative of the Danish International Development Agency, Mr. Victor Azza Vuzzi, on his part delivered the message from her Excellency Signe Skovbakke, Danish Ambassador to Uganda, who pledged continued Danish support to green transition in the country.
In his presentation of the FLYgene project overview, senior researcher Dr. Goutam Sahana of the Center for Quantitative Genetics and Genomics (QGG), Aarhus University, indicated the opportunities for realizing genetic gains in insects at a much faster rate than other livestock species, due to short generation intervals and high fertility.
The workshop observed that adoption of BSF farming is fast spreading in the two countries, especially among the youth. The story of Mr. John Agaba, a philosophy teacher engaged in BSF farming at his back yard in Lubirizi (Uganda), is one of many inspiring stories that highlight the potential of insect farming generating income and creating jobs, especially for women and landless youth. Representatives from the livestock feed processing industry stressed both the massive demand in all protein sources, and that the BSF sector should step up to fill a huge lingering gap in protein sources.
Among other things, the workshops highlighted the importance of synergy between the various stakeholders, so prevailing challenges in the insect-for-feed value chain can be addressed. The challenges include e.g. the organization of waste leading to inadequate and inconsistent availability of substrates, lack of technical knowhow on management, and optimal rearing of BSF. Genetic improvement was highlighted as a powerful tool to address some of the challenges through the inclusion of improved feed conversion efficiency, and environmental plasticity (the ability to survive and stay productive under extreme temperatures). The workshops also identified the need for an association of BSF producers and service providers, which can function as an important platform for future cooperation.
The FLYgene project’s co-coordinator, assistant professor Grum Gebreyesus of Aarhus University, stressed the importance of capacity building, including mainstreaming insect for feed and food in the university curricular system, as well as development of technical manuals on insect mass rearing and selective breeding to support the sustainability of the sector.
In their closing remarks at the workshop held in Nairobi, QGG center leader, professor Mogens Sandø Lund and Director General and CEO of ICIPE, Dr. Segenet Kelemu, both highlighted the importance of insects for food and feed in the global circular bioeconomy, and pledged continued support of their respective institutions to producers in the areas of capacity building and demand-driven research.
The workshops concluded with pledges for continued cooperation and communication among the various stakeholders, including the planning of a regional stakeholder meeting to bring together the various stakeholders from Kenya, Uganda, and other eastern African countries.
FLYgene is a five-year research project implemented in Kenya and Uganda by Aarhus University, center for Quantitative Genetics and Genomics, in collaboration with Makerere University, University of Copenhagen, University of Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology, InsectiPro ltd, and Marula Proteen ltd.