Hidden Gem in Sustainable Fish Production through Black Soldier Fly Farming

Fish farming is a significant and profitable sector in Kenya’s agricultural industry. With its vast water resources, including lakes, rivers, and ponds, Kenya has great potential for fish farming. According to Obiero (2019), fish is often considered to be a ‘rich food for poor people’ since it is the most accessible and affordable source of animal protein. Fish provides the majority of essential nutrients and calories that are needed for physical and mental development. It also has the potential to increase employment and  boost household income. However, small-scale fish farmers face various challenges  such as increasing cost of feed, which now accounts for nearly 60 to 80% of the total production costs (Obwanga et al. 2018), limited access to quality feed and management practices.

Majority of fish farmers use fishmeal to feed their fish but it is also used in feed formulation for other domesticated livestock. It is estimated that about 14% of the fish caught worldwide is used in the production of fishmeal (FAO, 2012). However, fishmeal is fast becoming depleted and increasingly scarce, amid continued rise in demand (FAO, 2014). This imbalance between supply and demand has led to the escalation of fishmeal prices throughout the world.

This situation is negatively affecting fish production in addition to reducing household incomes and necessitates a search for an alternative protein source. Small-scale farmers are desperate for an alternative substitute for fishmeal in animal feeds. Unfortunately, most of the readily and affordable fishmeal substitutes such as soybeans also serve as human food and are also nutritionally inferior to fishmeal in terms of protein digestibility and amino acid patterns (Tschirner and Simon, 2015). To overcome the fish feed challenges facing fish farming in Kenya, LDRI has been implementing BSF farming project in selected counties (Kiambu, Embu, Kakamega and Vihiga) that aims at increasing the use of Black Soldier Fly (BSF)as a source of feed for fish as well as other domesticated livestock like poultry and pigs. 

Black soldier flies (Hermetia illucens) are not much to look at, but they are making major waves in fish, poultry and pig farming. They are valuable insect species whose larvae have enormous potential for converting organic waste into organic frass fertilizer, while the larval biomass generated is harvested for its protein content which is vital for livestock feed formulation. They are regarded as non-pest since they do not bite or sting and are not able to transfer zoonotic diseases thus posing minimal risks to human or animal health. The BSF undergoes 4 stages in its life cycle: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Larva is the one that is used for feed formulation due to its high protein levels of approximately 35-45%.  Feeding fish with BSF larva can enhance their growth, health,  nutritional quality,  and overall reduce the dependence on traditional fishmeal derived from wild-caught fish. In order for the BSFT larva to reach maturity it will require warm temperatures of approximately 27 degrees Celsius, nevertheless, when temperatures fluctuate, they will still survive but their development time will  increase. 

 In addition  BSF are one of the most efficient waste recyclers in the insect world. When fed with organic wastes, the flies produce organic frass fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen and it can be used to improve soil health, cutting down on overall production costs while increasing farm productivity. Given that safe waste disposal remains a challenge in many low-income countries, BSF farming also not only reduces waste disposal costs but also contributes to better health. The commercial benefit of BSF farming on largescale include: consultancy services to interested farmers on BSF farming, selling of  starter kits interested groups and train them, and others sell larvae to individual farmers to formulate their own livestock feeds or supply them to livestock feed production companies. Some of the companies in Kenya that deal with commercialization of BSF include; ICIPE, JKUAT, Insectipro, Zihanga limited, Ecodudu, NutriEnto limited, Penuel farm, Protein Master among others.

Embracing BSF farming as a sustainable solution not only addresses the immediate challenges faced by small-holder fish farmers of fish-feed but also contributes to the long-term prosperity of the fish sector in Kenya. By leveraging this innovative and environmentally friendly approach, small-holder farmers can achieve increased productivity, reduced costs, and improved livelihoods, ultimately contributing to food security and economic growth. With continued research and investment in BSF farming practices, the potential for transforming Kenya’s Fishing industry is both exciting and promising.


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Tschirner, M. and Simon, A. (2015). Influence of Different Growing Substrates and Processing on the Nutrient Composition of Black Soldier Fly Larvae Destined for Animal Feed. Journal of Insects as Food and Feed, 1: 249-259.  https://doi.org/10.3920/JIFF2014.0008.