Anansi Proteins: Producing Black Soldier Fly Larvae for Sustainable Animal Feeds
We produce black soldier fly larvae fed on food waste to provide nutritious animal feeds for sustainable production and consumption.
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Anansi Farms Ltd.
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small company (under 50 employees)
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
The Republic of Kenya
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, covers an area of 696 Km^2
What country is your selected Place located in?
The Republic of Kenya
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
Both founders of Anansi Farms Ltd. are residents of Nairobi and have lived for a large chunk of their young lives in the city. It is a vibrant city, being the capital of Kenya and an important hub in the region. As such, it is densely populated with an estimated 10% of Kenyans living in it. This makes the city face challenges not only in feeding this population with nutritious diets, but also providing services such as proper waste management. Being residents in the area, the founders took it upon themselves to be a part of the solution via a company that produces nutritious feeds for animals while helping to keep the city clean.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
Nairobi is a melting pot of different cultures. Being the capital city of Kenya, members from all the 47 ethnic groups in the country can be found therein. Likewise, the city has a large presence of international residents given that it is the economic hub in the East African region. Most residents of Nairobi are multilingual, with many speaking at least 3 languages; their mother tongue as well as English and Kiswahili. As a result, the diets and cultures of the city is just as diverse as its people.
Over the past two decades, the city has experienced major changes brought about by a surging population and globalization. As the Kenyan population grows, a significant number of people are immigrating into the city, and is currently home to 10% of the country’s population. Such a huge population is exerting a huge pressure on existing infrastructure, including waste management systems as they have not been expanded in years to meet the needs of the rising numbers. This creates a situation where waste, including rotting food, is dumped in the open.
Likewise, globalization has made Nairobi residents much more aware of the outside world. These forces are shaping social dynamics in the city. One thing that is noticeable is that the diets of Nairobi residents have shifted significantly. Although maize and vegetables are still the staple, residents have acquired a taste for more exotic foods and a culture of eating out. Over the past two years, several restaurant chains, including international franchises, have opened shop in Nairobi to meet the demand.
At the same time, Nairobi residents are increasingly consuming more meat than before, which is creating a huge pressure on the environment with the International Livestock Research Institute estimating that the demand will double by 2050. In a nutshell, the city is growing fast and with it a variety of challenges are emerging in the food system and beyond. Therefore, it is necessary to find regenerative, long term solutions for sustainability.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
Current Challenges (2020)
Ineffective management of food waste is a problem experienced by Nairobi City, where major markets generate tons of waste per day. The UN estimates that such rotting food accounts for up to 7% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Some ends up contaminating water. Contaminated water from decaying matter also seep into nearby water bodies including the Nairobi River, while some collects in open dumpsites where they are an eyesore, emit a bad odor and present a health hazard.
Another major challenge in Nairobi is the skyrocketing demand for animal products due to a fast rising population and changing diets. This has led to a shortage in the raw materials needed to produce animal feeds, especially the protein components such as soybeans and silver cyprinid.
This contributes to the high cost of animal products which has enabled food inequality as it makes certain food products beyond the reach of certain segments of the population, hence preventing them from fully meeting their dietary needs.
Furthermore, it has significant negative effects on the environment. Currently, there is overfishing of silver cyprinid in lakes such as Victoria and intensive farming of soybean to meet the high demand for proteins. These are unsustainable ways of addressing the problem.
There are policies to address these problems but the implementation has been poor often due to lack of appropriate technologies to support the relevant authorities. As a result, unmanaged food waste continues to pose environmental challenges. Unsustainable farming of soya and fishing of silver cyprinids threaten the long term sustainability of entire food systems.
Future Challenges (2050)
In the future, these challenges are likely to become even bigger. The Kenyan population is growing at a fast rate, and is projected to hit 80 million by 2050. At the same time, this population is becoming more urbanized.
Therefore, this population is going to produce large quantities of more diverse food waste. That will emit even more greenhouse gases and contaminate more water resources. At the same time, this bulging population will demand more animal proteins than ever before.
Such demand is accompanied by reducing farmlands, and other natural resources such as water which are needed to produce the raw materials for animal feeds. Overfishing will probably continue while farming of soybeans is likely to become even more intensive.
Therefore, the shortage in animal feeds is unlikely to be bridged. The rising demand for animal products amid such shortage will push the cost of animal products even higher than before. It will make those foods even less accessible than they are now, which would prevent them from meeting their dietary needs.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
Research including those done by FAO and the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) show that BSFL offer a nutritious and highly sustainable way of meeting the demands for animal feeds. These larvae contain up to 40% crude protein, which makes them excellent for feeding all kinds of domestic animals. That is what we produce by rearing a colony within a controlled environment for maximum output. This will help bridge the gap in animal feeds
The financial and environmental cost of raising BSFL is significantly lower than those needed for traditional protein sources such as soybean or silver cyprinids. For instance, an acre of land can produce 130,000 pounds of BSFL while only 950 pounds of soya can be grown within it. In addition to this, BSFL have a significantly shorter growth cycle and do not have high water demands.
Due to these lower production costs, BSFL can be sold to feeds manufacturers at a fraction of the cost that the other raw materials are sold at. This reduces their cost of production and therefore sell feeds to farmers at a lower cost. In the end, this is reflected in lower purchasing costs for highly nutritious animal products. Therefore, it makes them more accessible, allowing people to meet their dietary needs.
Furthermore, farming BSFL will solve various environmental problems. For one, it will reduce the demand for soya and cyprinids, which will reduce the pressure on farms and lakes. Additionally, by removing food waste from open dumps, our approach facilitates proper waste management circulating those nutrients back into the food system. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions as BSFL have been observed to remove up to 21% of total organic carbon from food waste.
This is, therefore, not only sustainable, but also regenerative.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
The following benefits shall be enjoyed by members of different segments of society within the Place:
- Feeds manufacturers will enjoy access to highly nutritious yet affordable raw materials in the form of black soldier fly larvae. This will, therefore, decrease their operational costs. This is likely to lead to a decrease in the selling price of feeds.
- Farmers will enjoy the reduced cost of purchasing animal feeds due to usage of BSFL in their production. As a result, they are likely to reduce the selling price of animal products.
- Consumers will benefit from the reduced cost of purchasing animal products, which will make them more accessible. Therefore, more consumers will meet their dietary needs and culinary preferences affordable.
- All residents will enjoy a cleaner and healthier environment. Removal of food waste to feed BSFL eliminates the bad odor and eye sore caused by it while also reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
- Beyond Nairobi, the places where soya and silver cyprinids are obtained from will likely experience less exploitation. Therefore, the environment will be given more time to regenerate and hence it facilitates sustainable development.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Every aspect of the food system today is connected to a myriad of other things, all of which have a huge impact on the nature, effectiveness and other aspects of the food sector. In developing our vision, we conducted extensive research to understand how the animal feeds industry is impacted by factors such as the environment, diets, economics, culture, technology, and policy.
In doing so, we understood that positive transformation in the feeds industry cannot be achieved without appreciating the other aspects, and hence the need for a systems focused approach. That is how our vision was designed, by way of a food systems map. This not only maps out these factors, but also the relevant stakeholders who play a pivotal role in the food system presently and in the future as per projections for 2050.
In our vision, the first node of this system map are the residents of Nairobi. These are the people whom this vision is primarily meant to serve. Due to multiculturalism, this population is characterized by dietary changes in that they consume more animal products than before. These are nutritional needs which need to be met through affordable food.
At the same time, these are the residents who experience first-hand the harmful effects of mismanaged food waste. It not only smells bad in places such as Nairobi’s Wakulima Market, it is an eyesore and a health hazard. This population needs a vision which will help eliminate this problem now and into the future.
The second node in our vision map consists of feeds manufacturing companies and animal farmers. The shortage in raw materials such as soya and silver cyprinids has made operational costs for manufacturers significantly high. They therefore pass this to farmers in terms of high prices for animal feeds. Therefore, these are two groups which would benefit from more accessible and affordable raw materials.
Everything depends on the natural environment, and therefore protecting it is a top priority in our vision. As the human continues to grow, with 2050 projections putting it at a global scale of 10 billion, it is important to ensure that undue pressure does not damage the environment. It is, therefore, essential to identify solutions which can be used to meet the needs of a growing population without causing undue damage to the environment.
The final node in our vision map are technologies and policy. It is understood that for the aforementioned challenges to be met, usage of appropriate technologies supported by relevant policy frameworks is necessary. That is why in all instances, these are matters which must be considered as they form a core pillar in sustainable development.
The central node that connects all these items is our vision: Rearing of black soldier fly larvae.
To begin with, usage of black soldier fly larvae as a resource for animal feeds sparks a cultural shift in the food system. This is because it is something which has not been extensively done before in Nairobi, and therefore encouraging farmers to use them requires changing perceptions. From our survey, however, we have observed that this is not going to be much of a challenge because many farmers are already open to using them. Likewise, feeds manufacturers are open to making use of the larvae to produce feeds. This means that the challenge of overcoming a mental barrier will not be there, and hence a ready market exists. With this in mind, the economics of farming BSFL for animal feeds makes sense.
Meeting this demand for animal feeds is directly linked to the shifting culinary cultures among residents of Nairobi. People are consuming more animal products than ever before, and therefore production has to increase significantly. The International Livestock Research Institutes (ILRI) estimates that within the next 30 years, meat production in Kenya must double in order to address the nutritional needs of the growing population. Therefore, farmers need a feeds that are not only nutritious, but also affordable in order to meet such demands. BSFL is that kind of resource because of the benefits associated with it, which include comparatively lower production costs and high nutritional value.
The environment will benefit from this vision in that it is developed such that it creates a regenerative and sustainable food system. Firstly, feeding BSFL on food waste removes it from the environment and hence the eyesore as well as health hazard associated with it. Furthermore, the BSFL have been shown to reduce carbon in food waste and therefore help in countering emission of greenhouse gases. The biggest win, however, will be a reduction in the demand for traditional protein-based raw materials such soya and silver cyprinids. Therefore, it will help minimize overexploitation of the environment to meet the demand for animal feeds.
In order to achieve these goals, we have developed a set of technologies that facilitate optimum rearing of BSFL. Basing on studies done by the likes of ICIPE, ILRI and Wagenigen University, we have developed a farming process which takes a very scientific approach for good outcomes. Likewise, we have developed mechanical harvesting techniques to facilitate faster harvests to meet market needs in good time.
Being a new type of farming in Kenya, the regulatory frameworks pertaining to it are still under development. However, there is government support for such initiatives given the prominence it is given by the Kenya Agricultural Research Organization and various universities. We are therefore confident that it is an area that will receive more supportive legislation going forward, because it is a critical component in achieving sustainable development now and in future years such as 2050.
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