Farmer traps flies to make pig, poultry feeds
Eric Kamau produces three types of animal feeds: dairy meal, which he sells at Sh2,700/60kg, pig meal, also at Sh2,700/60kg and poultry meal, at Sh1,800/50kg.
In 2015, Eric Kamau grew frustrated at buying animal feeds at Sh7,000 a week for his birds and pigs. This pain pushed him to start producing animal feeds himself in an effort to cut costs and sell to other farmers too. With an initial capital of Sh350,000, his savings while he worked at Kenya Climate Innovation Centre and from side hustles, he started a company called Black Soldier Fly Larvae Organics Limited in Dagoretti, Nairobi, to produce animal feeds from dried pupa of the black soldier fly.“I discovered that the black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) could produce high protein animal feeds after a lot of online research. Before settling on the BSFL, I wanted to go with hydroponics fodder, as a protein substitute to omena and soya beans that I was accustomed to, but this, too, was also insufficient, as it contained a lot of water and a lower protein component of only 15 per cent, which is less than what is contained in the soya beans and omena,” said Mr Kamau.But his online search established that the fly larvae were a high value feed source, rich in protein and fat, and even when dried, contains 44 per cent protein, which was higher than any of the country’s mainstream omena, soya beans and hydroponics fodder feeds.
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The BSFL were also resistant to drought, feed shortages and oxygen deficiency.From his initial capital, he bought an animal feed mixer from China for Sh350,000. The machine crushes and mixe the raw materials for the animal feed to make up to seven tonnes a day of fine, complete meal.Mr Kamau says he spends about Sh257,000 a month on production but makes Sh100,000 profit monthly.“Monthly, I spend Sh79,800 on 2,800 tonnes of maize gram and 47,600 on 1,500 tonnes of wheat gram. These are mixed with the dried larvae. Further, I spend Sh30,000 on electricity, Sh10,000 on waste materials for the larvae to feed on during metamorphosis, and Sh90,000 to pay my 10 employees,” said Mr Kamau. Production of the feed is a slow process. First, he sets up traps along fences and dumping sites by placing buckets filled with faecal waste from pigs, as the black soldier flies are attracted to this and lay their eggs there. After the female BSF lays the eggs, he harvests them and places them on organic waste materials collected from orange, mango and banana peels.After exactly 105 hours, the eggs hatch into larvae and immediately start feeding on the organic waste, which are a great source of nutrients for the larvae. The larvae feed all day long and weekly are able to convert 500kg of waste into organic fertiliser.After two weeks, the larvae turn into dark purple pupa, and are ready for harvesting. They are then dried, either under the sun or by deep frying them, and crushed into powder.The dried larvae can be sold as a solo meal or mixed with other elements, like the maize jam or wheat bran, to make a complete meal for animals like pigs, dairy cows, and fish.Mr Kamau produces three types of animal feeds: dairy meal, which he sells at Sh2,700/60kg, pig meal, also at Sh2,700/60kg and poultry meal, at Sh1,800/50kg. His venture has steadily gathered pace, from two employees to 10.However, the marketing can be challenging, with other feeds often cheaper, but of lower quality. “Trying to market our quality animal feeds to other farmers is quite a challenge, as they are not easily convinced that we have the better option, if not the best,”, said Mr Kamau. However, his business is still under incubation by the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre, his former employer, and the organisation is working with him in coming up with better marketing and branding techniques. Mr Kamau is also working with close to 50 farmers, training them in how to make their own animal feeds from BSFL.“Just last week, I was working with the Meru County Government to train the extension officers in the fishery sector on how to make animal feeds from BSFL’’, he said. “We have also set up a demonstration site for the farmers to come and learn how we do it.”Mr Kamau’s aim is to penetrate the Kenyan market and then expand across East Africa. He is also now exploring other alternatives to the llack soldier fly, such as termites.