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Researchers identify 28 insect species with higher crude protein content effective for fish and poultry production

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West and Central Africa researchers have identified 28 insect species in Kenya and Uganda with higher crude protein (dry matter (DM) basis) than most of the commercial feeds to help sort the problem of poor quality feeds and high cost of fish and poultry production.

According to the researchers, in many sub-Saharan African countries, the poultry and fish industries are among the fastest-growing agribusinesses.

However, poor availability and the low quality of feed, combined with the high cost of soybeans and cereals used as feed ingredients, are severely constraining growth in the sector.

Insect use as a protein source is estimated to reduce the protein cost of feed production by at least 25-37.5 percent.

Working with private sector companies, the research team assessed the market potential for insect meal and insect-based feeds and analysed the feeds’ performance in poultry and fish production.

These have been approved by the Kenya and Uganda Bureaus of Standards which are set to develop regulations and standards for the use of insects in animal feeds.

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Some of these insects including the African moth (Gonimbrasia zambesia), which has up to 73.3 per cent crude protein (DM basis), field cricket (67.21 per cent), house cricket (62.57 per cent), and black soldier fly (49.5 percent). Insects are also high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals.

Aflatoxin and pesticide residues were not found in the 28 insect species analysed. Pathogens (Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus aureus, and faecal coliforms) in reared black soldier flies (BSF), crickets, and harvested blue caliphora flies were effectively inactivated by boiling or roasting for five minutes

Performance studies in catfish fingerlings revealed that a 37 per cent higher growth rate and a 23 percent higher weight gain were achieved from BSF-based feed, compared to conventional feed.

Nile tilapia fish fed with BSF-based feed were 23 percent heavier than those fed with conventional feed.

Replacement of 20 percent fishmeal in conventional poultry feed with BSF resulted in higher (53 percent) egg production and improved quality compared to conventional feed.

Insect commercialisation for feed has been adopted in both Kenya and Uganda. For instance, Sanergy Ltd., one of the private firm, is currently expanding its BSF production units with new investors joining the venture.

Already over 80 per cent fish and poultry farmers and 75 per cent of feed traders and processors are willing to use insects as feed.

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