Are Insects the new protein to feed the world?
27 Sep 2016 by Sidiki Sow
The African population is expected to double in the next 35 years growing from 1.1 to 2.4 B people by the year 2050. The current agriculture and fishery are extremely taxing on resources, inefficient and generate magnitudes of food losses and wastes every year. As the demand for protein feed and food are expected to double, it is urgent to find alternatives sources of protein to meet this critical growing demand while preserving the environment.
“At ProtERA, our solution is to produce mass quantities of insect meal in order to substitute fish meal and soy bean meal mainly in poultry and fish feed”, explains Sidiki Sow, Founder and CEO. "The Black Soldier Fly is an amazing insect. It does not eat, smell or bite and does not transmit any diseases” he adds, describing the insect this innovator prizes for his business. And indeed this fly is an environmental cleaner with 0.15 g of its eggs able to clean 13kg of organic substrate from all pathogen bacteria and each female able to produce up to 1000 eggs in a spam of four.
Most importantly, the eggs grow on organic matter and can recycle the nutrients of food and animal manure. ProTERA take advantage of this process by collecting fruit and vegetable waste; mainly from agro industrials and market places and feed their insects with it. “Our insect will consume 70% of the matter and the rest will be sold as an organic fertilizer – with the fat content of our larvae extracted as oil that has the property of biodiesel”. Sidiki explains, “A product that is cheaper and more nutritious than soybean”.
Replacing resource intensive alternatives for a more sustainable future
ProTERA are farming Black Soldier Fly Larvae to produce sustainable protein to feed poultry and fish, with insect meal replacing resource intensive fish and grain meal used in animal feed.
“Since 1950, the open ocean has been decimated by overfishing. In fact, the open ocean fish population has decreased by 90%”, explains Sidiki. “Currently, 30% of global grain production is going to animal feed, with the European union alone producing grains on 90M hectares outside of Europe exclusively for their animals - that is equivalent to the size of Tanzania”, he continues.
“Every year, 90M metric tons of fruits and vegetables are lost in Sub-Saharan Africa at post-harvest, distribution and transformation levels. Markedly compounded by the one quarter of remaining ocean fish used as fish meal in order to feed one stomach animals such as poultry, fish and pigs (IFFO)” Sidiki calculates.
“Whatsmore, grain production uses 70% of global fresh water, 40% of emerged land and emits almost one 10th of global GHG. Also using more than 110M tons of fertilizers and pesticides together every year(PROteINSECT). And even more stark, the 90M metric tons of fruits and vegetables wasted are responsible for the equivalent of the methane emissions of around 12 million cars (Rockefeller foundation)” he asserts.
At ProtERA, they have found a way to solve all these problems at the same time.
Can the power of fly larvae reshape farming practice?
According the FAO, the future of food and feed is in insects. Great because they are resource efficient, they use drastically less water, land, feed and emit negligible GHG to produce the same amount of protein as fish and grain – or possibly even more.
“They are also rich in iron, calcium, omega 3 and contain all essential amino acids”, Sidiki adds. In fact, insect protein it is the most efficient and environmentally friendly source of protein in the world.
ProTERA product is cheaper and more nutritious than soybean - allowing for a decrease in the environmental impact of feed production in terms of water, land, GHG and chemicals. ProTERA also have governmental support, flexible regulation and specialized technical partners; having won the first prize at HEC Social Business Creation 2016.
What’s next for ProTERA?
“We want to establish a farm in Bamako, Mali on a 2000 m^2 area that was donated by my grandfather for a 500 m^2 production plant composed of an office, a storage, a condition controlled production/processing and hatching building and a parking lot”, explains Sidiki. “We will sell our insect meal to layer producer, AVIFARM, and our compost to tomato farmer Sidibé Agrotechnique, whilst oil will eventually be sold to fish farmer Les Fermes Piscicoles Diallo”, he adds. ProTERA see the direct impact over three years as the creation of 50 young jobs, the saving of 2,295 tons of fish, the recycling of 58,500 tons of food waste and the reduction in methane emission of the equivalent of 7,200 cars.
ProTERA is comprised of four key team members:
- Sidiki A. SOW – CEO and Founder, Agribusiness Specialist
- Tess Pereira – CFO
- Pierre Olivier Maquart - Entomologist
- N'Golopé Koné - TC