NEW BUZZ: The common housefly offers a livestock feed solution to drought-hit farmers in the Western Cape. Picture: Chris Collingridge
Cape Town - The ordinary housefly has flown to the rescue of drought-stricken Philippi farmers by meeting the growing demand for animal feed in the Western Cape and will also boost food security in the country.

The drought in the province has caused a shortage of feed for livestock. According to AgriProtein, a fly farm in Philippi, the facility has so far created 150 jobs in the communities of Mitchells Plain and Philippi. The number was expected to increase substantially when additional production facilities were established.

Jason Drew, chief executive of AgriProtein, said there was a growing demand from animal-feed suppliers for a natural and cost-effective alternative to fish meal, which was widely used in the poultry and fish farming industries. We are rapidly expanding globally.

"Our aim is to build a network of 100 insect protein factories by 2024 and 200 by 2027, supplying the $100 billion aquafeed market. We are building factories in Saudi Arabia, the US, South America and Africa, as well as one in Australasia,” he said.

Drew said one of their concerns was how the rapid growth of the world population is affecting natural resources. “We contribute to the protection of the fishing industry. The world consumes more fish than it can produce and fish stocks globally are rapidly declining. Fish are also used to feed chickens. But there are other foods such as grains, insects and maggots that have the same quantity of proteins and could relieve the pressure on the fish stocks,” Drew said.

Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor said the AgriProtein fly-farm could boost food security. “Funded by the Department of Science and Technology through its entity, the Technology Innovation Agency, AgriProtein has already created 150 jobs. AgriProtein uses technology that converts waste into nutrients used for animal feed. It is a pioneer in the emerging waste-to-nutrient industry, which seeks to put the world’s growing organic waste mountain, estimated to top 1billion tons by 2025, to good use in improving food security.”

NEW BUZZ: The common housefly offers a livestock feed solution to drought-hit farmers in the Western Cape. Picture: Chris Collingridge

Pandor also said insect meal was a more sustainable alternative than fish meal, with the production process also diverting large volumes of organic waste from landfills to feed the larvae, which grow into the maggots used for the insect meal. “The growth of small businesses was central to creating new, sustainable jobs. This must therefore be seen as a priority,” she added.

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Cape Argus