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Free insects reduce feeding cost for fish farmers

Some smallholder commercial fish farmers in the South-South region of Nigeria are reducing feeding costs by about 15 percent through provision of free insects for fish to consume all night long.

They hang an electric bulb on a pole over each fish pond and at night, winged insects get attracted to the light. These insects are stung by the heat from the electric bulb and drop into the fish ponds below, providing free food to the fish. As a result, the farmers are able to get their fish to table size of about 1 kilogram in record time of four months at reduced feeding cost.

This innovation was brought by scientists to the farmers who have been using this method to reduce their cost of production for many months now.

Ebinimi Ansa, aquaculture researcher and fellow, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), who has been at the forefront of innovative aquaculture researches, says “even when there is no electricity supply, hanging a lantern on poles near the fish pond can produce the same result.” She says this is more easily achieved in places where there are vegetation, especially the rural areas that are surrounded by thick vegetation.

But the usefulness of this research is not only for the rural areas but have very profound implications for global food security as scientists worldwide are endorsing insects as renewable source of food for animal feeding. This is available online on sciencedirect.com

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in a recent study has also attested to the fact that insects have a similar market to fishmeal; that they are employed as feed in aquaculture.

According to this FAO document repository, in 2011, combined world feed production was estimated at 870 million tons, with revenue from global commercial feed manufacturing generating approximately $350 billion globally. FAO estimates that production will have to increase by 70 percent to be able to feed the world in 2050. Since at present, generally accepted ingredients for both animal and fish feed include fishmeal, fish oil, soybeans and several other grains, the study pinpoints a major constraint to further development to be the prohibitive costs of feed, including meat meal, fishmeal and soybean meal, which represent 60 percent – 70 percent of production costs. The International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF) and FAO therefore are exploring new, safe proteins.

The IFIF is a global organisation mandated to play a co-ordinating role in promoting the sustainable supply of safe, healthy feed in the global feed industry. Together with FAO, the IFIF has developed a Manual of Good Practices for the Feed Industry and established a meeting point for feed associations and feed regulators at an annual International Feed Regulators Meeting. The FAO document repository shows that insects have a similar market to fishmeal; they are employed as feed in aquaculture and livestock and also used in the pet industry.

Recent high demand and consequent high prices for fishmeal, together with increasing production pressure on aquaculture, has led to research into the development of insect proteins for aquaculture and livestock (which could eventually supplement fishmeal).

Meanwhile, aquaculture is growing and fishmeal is declining rapidly as a source of feed.

OLUYINKA ALAWODE

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