Insect meal as aquafeed

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KUALA LUMPUR: Located in Malaysia, Crops For the Future (CFF), the world’s first and only centre dedicated to research on underutilised crops, is developing novel aquaculture feeds using insect meal comprised of Black Soldier Fly (BSF) larvae fed on locally-sourced underutilised crops.

Funded by the International Foundation for Science (IFS), the project is spearheaded by CFF with a consortium of partners in four countries: Malaysia, Cambodia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Malaysia currently imports 600,000 tonnes of aquaculture feed, and this is projected to reach 1.5 million tonnes by 2025.

Aquaculture feeds mainly rely on imported ingredients, such as soybean, wheat and fishmeal. The price of imported feed has escalated over the years, posing further vulnerability to the sustainability of the aquaculture industry.

Producing novel aquafeeds from locally-sourced crops and ingredients will reduce the cost of imported fishmeal, localise the feed supply chain to support a sustainable aquaculture industry and improve the income of Malaysian aquaculture farmers.

This project follows the success of a Newton-Ungku Omar Fund project, where CFF and its partners at the University of Nottingham, UK, developed sustainable aquafeed using BSF larvae fed with underutilised crops to replace up to 50% of fishmeal in formulated aquaculture feed.

The project was selected as the top UK-Malaysia collaboration for showcasing at the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC) in London in 2016.

The research also demonstrated additional economic benefits where by-products can be marketed as an organic fertiliser.

“As we continue to advance our technology, this research holds high potential to help meet the growing demand for sustainable aquaculture feed where fishmeal supplies still depend on wild caught fish,” said Prof Sayed Azam-Ali, Chief Executive Officer of CFF.

This project also represents an innovative approach that will span the supply chain through to consumer consumption.

“By assessing the entire value chain from crop production to the quality of insect meal and the final fish product, we aim to deliver research impacts that are technically and economically viable and environmentally sustainable,” said Sayed Azam-Ali.

In this project, CFF is collaborating with Nutrition Technologies, a UK nutrient recycling company focusing on BSF larvae, to replace unsustainable fishmeal and imported soy protein in tilapia feeds using BSF proteins and oils fed on underutilised crops.

Speaking on the partnership, Tom Berry, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Nutrition Technologies, says that this project will help strengthen research on the potential of insects as feed, particularly in the aquaculture sector.

“What we’re really hoping from this project is to identify underutilised crops grown on idle land, which can be used as feed for the BSF. This link could support the growth of global aquaculture using underutilised resources that are turned into the high-grade proteins and oils for fish.”

CFF research bridges the gaps between climate change, agriculture, and food security through the wider use of underutilised crops.

For updates on this project, stay connected to www.cffresearch.org