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Varsity scientists researching on insect based poultry feeds to curb rising production costs

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology stand

Farmers gather at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology stand for inquieries during this year’s Agritech event at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC). Photo: Zablon/Farmbiz Africa.

Scientists from Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST) are exploring ways of introducing low cost insect based chicken feeds with over 500 species being studied following unprecedented rise in animal feeds especially in poultry which have taken a toll on farmers earning in Kenya.

Currently more than 50 per cent of the feeds’ ingredients are imported from the regional neighbours, especially Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda and the prices of the materials keep on increasing depending on their availability.

According to a research published last year by a Kenyan NGO, Kenya Market Trust, out of 200 feeds manufacturers in Kenya, only 10 per cent are able to consistently manufacture feeds that meet quality standards.

The university’s scientists are aiming to use insects as a protein substitute in the manufacture of chicken feeds due to shortage and increasing cost of producing.

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The research on the use of insects to supplement other protein sources will focus on insects’ species in the African continent, which are edible and can be cost effectively and sustainably domesticated and multiplied to provide a cheap source of proteins that is increasingly becoming insufficient to meet the increasing demand of the population. She further explained.

“Our research is concerned with developing an easy-to-adapt, and cost-effective insect rearing, harvesting and post-harvest techniques among small-scale poultry and fish farmers in East Africa to reduce the cost of buying animal feeds. This would include identification of suitable insect species, assessing the potential market and nutritional attributes of the products.” Said John Odero, an agronomist at the university.

At the end of the adoption of the insect feeds, the scientists hope that the cost of poultry production in in the country will greatly reduce.

JOOUST has been recruiting farmers to rear crickets which is one of the insects under research to improve production.

“We have been recruiting farmers in an educational program that involves teaching, research, product development and commercialization related to crickets as food and feeds across Kenya and Africa at large.”

Edible insects such as crickets are resilient to climatic changes and emit considerably less amounts of green gases and they are also available in all seasons.

The university has also established the Africa Center of Excellence in Sustainable use of Insects as Food and Feeds (INSEFOODS) with funding from the World Bank.

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