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Rwanda unveils guidebook for insect industry

Rwanda has launched standards for the edible insects’ sector following the establishment of the country’s first commercial insect-based animal feed plant, as it nurtures ambition of raising its regional competitiveness in the livestock sector.

The insect-farming commercial plant will be housed by Safe for Health Ltd, a subsidiary of Agri-Business Solution Ltd, a major chicken breeding and animal feed factory. Initially, the facility will focus on rearing black soldier fly, an insect that has been chosen for its proven versatility.

According to research by the International Centre of Insect physiology and Ecology (Icipe), black soldier fly larvae or the proteins derived from them constitute valuable as components in feeds for poultry, pigs and fish. Black soldier fly larvae are also used in recycling organic waste into protein and nutrient-rich bio-fertilisers.

Globally, insects are increasingly being valued as a green, more affordable and nutritious source of food for people; as alternative protein components for animal feed; and as a basis for the transformation of economies and livelihoods.

Insects form the biological foundation for all land-based ecosystems, for instance as pollinators and by recycling organic waste into nutrient-rich fertilisers, said Icipe in a press release last week. They are also origins of various high value products such as oils, chitin and chitosan, which have diverse uses in the energy, industrial, pharmaceutical, food and crop protection sectors.

With scientific and technical support from Icipe, Rwanda joins a rising movement in eastern Africa that has been spurred on by a worldwide awakening to insects as a transformative force in reshaping food systems into a more sustainable and vibrant circular economy.

The Deputy Director General of the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB), Dr Solange Uwituze said, “As a landlocked country, we import protein raw materials for animal feed, like soy beans, often at high prices.

This escalated the cost of animal feeds in Rwanda. Between 2019 and 2022, prices rose by over 130 percent, from Rwf450 ($0.44) per kilogramme to Rwf1,050 ($1.01) per kilogramme in 2022, forcing farmers to make do with lower nutrient feeds.

As a result, smallholder farmers, who account for over 80 percent of livestock producers, have resorted to organic farm feed of low nutritional value and poor conversion rates leading to low livestock productivity.

“We project scaling-up operations in the first three years of operation, to produce at least 5,000 tonnes of dry insects for poultry feed, while processing about 100,000 metric tonnes of waste annually. Our aim is to reach a production capacity of 25,000 metric tonnes of dry insects by processing over 500,000 metric tonnes of waste annually,” noted Jean Baptiste Musabyimana, CEO and Founder, Abusol Ltd.

“The use of insects as a source of protein in animal feed has been tested and is used in several countries. It is therefore great to see such innovations coming to Rwanda. We are happy to have helped pioneer companies to gain the technical knowhow and invest in production facilities,” said Anna Wilson, Development Director, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

The insect feed programme falls under the Improving Market Systems in Rwanda for Agriculture project known locally as Noza Isoko, an initiative funded by UK Aid through the FCDO in partnership with the Rwanda Agricultural Board and the Rwanda Standards Board.

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