Rwanda flags off first commercial insect-based animal feed plant

RWANDA – Rwanda has flagged off its first commercial plant for insect-based animal feed, along with the new standards that will regulate and facilitate the growth of the sector.

Dr Solange Uwituze, the Deputy Director General of Rwanda Agricultural and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB), on behalf of the Board’s Minister, solemnized the event which took place at the new plant’s premises in Bugesera District.

Insect-based animal feed is a budding innovation that can help address the lack of access to high quality and affordable commercial feed, which currently handicaps the performance and growth of the livestock sector in Rwanda.

A good example is the Black Soldier Fly (BSF) which can convert low-quality organic waste streams into valuable body mass containing high levels of quality protein and fat, serving as a substitute for fishmeal and soybean.

In addition, frass, i.e. the left-over product from growing insects, is an organic fertilizer that contains a nutrient-dense blend of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (N-P-K) and minerals.

Rwanda was able to realize this dream with patronage from the UK Aid funded Improving Market Systems for Agriculture in Rwanda (IMSAR-Noza Izoko) programme, implemented by Palladium in partnership with Swisscontact.

IMSAR aims to contribute to the commercialization of agriculture by improving the way agricultural market systems function, making them more competitive and inclusive for smallholder farmers.

Together with the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), IMSAR provides technical assistance to selected agribusinesses for improving their capacity to farm and process BSF.

Anna Wilson, Development Director at British High Commission in Kigali, noted that the IMSAR programme was instrumental in supporting the implementation of PSTA4, Rwanda’s fourth Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture.

“The use of insects as a source of protein in animal feed has been tested and is now used in several countries. It is therefore great to see such innovation coming to Rwanda and we are happy to have helped pioneer companies as Safe for Health and Maggot Farm to gain the technical know-how and invest in production facilities,” she said.

Standards to govern sector

Jerome Ndahimana, Director of Food and Agriculture, Chemistry and Environment Standards Unit, at Rwanda Standards Board, presented to participants the standards that have been formulated to regulate production and usage of the insect-based products.

These standards cover different aspects including production and handling of insects for food and feed (Code of practice), dried insect products for animal feeds (specification), and; edible insect products – Specification – Part 1Whole insect and insect flour.

“The development of these standards has been achieved through the support of different partners. RSB is thankful to the IMSAR programme that initiated this activity of standardization that took one year,” he added.

During the event, Jean Baptiste Musabyimana, CEO and Founder of Safe for Health, presented the new plant and explained their vision for the future, which is to produce at least 5,000 MT of BSF powder per year.

Safe for Health is specialized in the production of animal feed and is a sister company of Abusol, one of the biggest and most advanced poultry farms in Rwanda.

He told The New Times that 1,000 tonnes of dried BSF could convert over 20,000 MT of low-quality organic waste into animal feed with high levels of proteins.

“That means 5,000 MT of BSF powder could turn 100,000 MT of organic waste streams into feeds rich in proteins. Using the insects will reduce the use of the expensive Soybeans we have been using to produce animal feeds,” he said.

Francis Kavutze, the Founder of Maggot Farm, also supported by IMSAR, lauded the innovative project.

“We got access to training on best rearing practice, and IMSAR investment helped us double our production of BSF larvae; we currently sell raw larvae to the fishery and poultry sector, but in the future, as we secure sufficient investment, we intend to start drying and processing, adding value to our product,” he said.

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