Eric Kamau, a Dagoretti based farmer is making Sh100,00 in profits monthly from selling own made animal feeds to various farmers.
The farmer uses black soldier flies to produce three types of animal feeds; dairy meal, which he sells at Sh2700/60kg, pig meal at Sh2700 per 60kg bag and poultry meal at Sh1800/50kg bag.
In 2015, Eric Kamau, grew frustrated from buying animal feeds at Sh7,000 a week for his birds and pigs, therefore he decided to start his production on animal feed in an effort to save on costs.
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With an initial capital of Sh350,000 which he had saved from his previous place of employment at the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre and from other side hustles he started a production company called Black Soldier Fly Larvae Organics Limited which is located in Dagoretti, Nairobi.
“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 Kamau.
After more online research, he eventually settled on the Black Soldier Fly larvae(BSFL), which are a high value feed source, rich in protein and fat and contain approximately 44 per cent dry after protein composition, higher than that of omena, soya beans and hydroponics fodder, which are the main materials used to make most animal feeds.
The BSFL is also resistant to the demanding environmental conditions, such as drought, feed shortage or oxygen deficiency.
From his initial capital, he purchased an animal feed mixer machine imported from China at Sh350,000. This was capable of mixing and crushing the raw materials for the animal feed to make a fine complete meal and because of its ability to produce seven tonnes a day.
Thus far this has been a successful venture for him as he is able to rack in Sh100,000 per month in profits against the Sh257,000 he spends on his production costs per month.
“On a monthly basis, I spend Sh79,800 on 2800 tonnes of maize gram and 47,600 on 1500 tonnes of wheat gram. These material are used to mix up 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 Kamau.
For the production of the BSFL, it requires patience and expertise. First, he sets up traps along the fences and dumping sites by placing buckets filled with black soldier flies with fecal waste from the pigs as the flies are attracted to this so that they can lay the eggs there.
After the female BSFL lays the eggs, he immediately harvests them and places them on organic waste materials collected from the market such as orange, mango and banana peels. After exactly 105 hours, the eggs hatch into the larvae stage and immediately start feeding on the organic waste, which are a great source of nutrients for the larvae. At this stage the larvae feed all day long and on a weekly basis they are able to covert 500kgs of waste into organic fertilizer.
After two weeks the larvae turn into pupa, at this stage the pupa changes its body pigment into a dark color of purple. It is at this stage that harvesting takes place. The pupa are later dried either under the sun or by deep frying them and later crushed into powder.
The dried larvae can be sold as a solo meal or it can be mixed with other elements like the maize jam or wheat bran to make a complete meal for animals like pigs, dairy meal for cows, fish meal too.
At the moment, he produces three types of animal feeds namely the dairy meal which he sells at 2700/60 kg, pigs meal which he sells at 2700/60kg and poultry meal which he sells at 1800/50kg. At the moment he does not sell the fish feed until he can get the Pelletizer machine to make the pelletes for the fish meal.
He started off with two employees who would help him in the marketing, administrative and production activities.
Some of the challenges that he is facing currently include stiff competition from other animal feed producers because some of them are selling them at a cheaper price.
“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 Kamau.
Further, sourcing for the raw materials which are part of the animal feed formulations is also another major challenge as the maize drum and wheat barn used to make the animal feeds can only be sourced from Uganda which makes us incur a lot of transport costs.
Luckily for him, he is still an incubator at the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre, and the organization is working with him in coming up with better marketing and branding techniques.
Presently, he is also working with close to 50 farmers who are some of his major clients and he is training them on how to make 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 as there is need for expansion’’, said Mr. Kamau. “We have also set up a demonstration site for the farmers to come and learn how we do it”, he added.
He has expanded and managed to employ a total of eight employees, four of whom who are working at the production site, two are administrators and the remaining four are in charge of marketing.
Kamau looks forward to fully penetrate the Kenyan market and expand to the East African region. He is currently exploring other alternatives to Black soldier fly, such as using the termites especially now with the food insecurity.
Eric Kamau can be reached on 0726960610