To overcome the cost of expensive fish feed, a Tanzanian company, NovFeed, is now rearing maggots and aquatic plants as natural alternatives.
This alternative fish feed costs 30 per cent lower, making fish farming for human consumption more viable.
NovFeed co-founder Elisha Otaigo, says they use the black soldier flies (BSF) because their maggots contain more protein, fat, and micro-nutrients than normal houseflies, and are easily dried and stored.
"There is a big opportunity for fish farming. All we lack is cost-effective and better feed. The country produces 336,821 tonnes of fish annually, lower than the annual demand of 731,000 tonnes," said Mr Otaigo.
Otaigo says another advantage of using BSFs is that unlike houseflies, they are not vectors of disease and have a much shorter life cycle. Their larvae feed on organic matter and can be fed a variety of organic waste substrates such us food waste of vegetables and fruits, slaughter house waste until the larvae mature.
The flies eat ravenously for two to three weeks before reaching the preppies stage, at which point they are at optimal nutritional content and can be harvested as larvae before they fully develop into flies. They are then dried and ground into a fine protein-rich meal that can be used as an ingredient in fish feed.
NovFeed, founded in 2017, has a team of five experts, and draws inspiration from how fish farming contributes to poverty alleviation to poor communities in Indonesia. "The lessons I learned from Indonesia is that fish farming has the potential to become a key driver of food security and economic development in Tanzania," said Mr Otaigo.
In a survey before setting up NovFeed, he found that the feed in the market was not only not as nutritious but also expensive because of the different ingredients and fillers used in the mix.
It was the main cause of low fish yields and financial returns. NovFeed mixes the dried protein from harvested larvae with other ingredients to make complete fish feed.