Viktoria just returned from Benin which she visited in October to work together with colleagues from IITA at completing the goals of workpackage I + III in our VR funded project ‘Insect farming for feed production and organic waste management in Benin‘. Together they investigated and sampled waste streams from the south and the north of Benin and worked on improving the Black Soldier Fly colony at IITA, to secure a stable and high production of Black Soldier Fly larvae for future waste treatments. The visit was ended with a fruitful final discussion, where the gained knowledge and experience was shared with the rest of the work groups, both at SLU and IITA.
IITA, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, is a non-profit institution that generates agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and natural resource degradation. Working with various partners across sub-Saharan Africa, they aim to improve livelihoods, enhance food and nutrition security while increasing employment, and preserve natural resources.
About the project:
The project is funded by VR (Vetenskapsrådet) and the objective is for Black Soldier Fly Farming to contribute to solving socio-economic and environmental issues in Benin by reducing the adverse impact of inadequate waste management, while at the same time improving agricultural productivity with locally sourced products.
We are very happy to announce that Formas has decided to fund our project Circular economy in feed production by fly larvae composting – risks of accumulation of persistent disease agents in the reuse chain. In this project we will dive back into the hygiene of the black soldier fly larvae composting process, investigating the fate persistent disease agents we have so far not been able to able to study, e.g. scrapie prions and spore-forming bacteria.
We will investigate what happens to disease agents in the BSFL composting process and verify whether they end up in the larvae, the frass or are destroyed/inactivated. We will also try to establish if the known inactivation of selected disease agents (e.g. Salmonella spp.) happens in the passage through the larvae or is due to excretion of antimicrobial peptides. Finally, we will wrap up all collected knowledge in a quantitative risk assessment, in which we focus in particular at the risk of prions. The lack of knowledge to what happens to prions in this process we believe is one major reason that hinders the use of post-consumer food waste as feed substrate to insects.
To increase our joy even more, we were also granted another Formas project, in collaboration with Ecoloop, RagnSells, Tebrito, Johannas stadsodlingar. The aim of the project is to link the lab scale knowledge of the hygiene in insect processing to larger scale settings. We will develop quality control measures and implemented them at commercial facilities in proof-of-concept studies. In addition, the use of a block-chain based digital traceability system in a circular food production chain in which food waste is used as insect substrate will be investigated and a conceptual model designed. Discussions with authorities and certification organs will be maintained throughout the project. Hopefully these two projects can be part of a process in which the regulation on substrates for insects to include real waste substrates and not only food industry waste streams that are currently allowed. Many insect researchers are in agreement: for insects to have a real and sustainable impact on our food systems, they have to be reared on real waste substrates (see excellent comment on the Principles for the responsible use of farmed insects as livestock feed in nature food by Parodi et al (2022)).
Förra veckan deltog Viktoria Wiklicky från vår forskargrupp i sommarskolan ”Insekter som mat och foder – från produktion till konsumtion” som organiserats av Wageningen University. Sommarskolan tittade på olika aspekter av insektsmat- och foderkedjan, från genetik till jordbruk, hantering/logistik, bearbetning, marknadsföring och konsumtion. Kursen mottogs mycket väl av deltagarna, av vilka många nästan bombarderade lärarna med en rad intressanta frågor! En höjdpunkt var studiebesöket i Belgien där deltagarna tillbringade en hel dag vid Thomas More University of Applied Sciences och University of Leuven och fick föreläsningar och en rundtur genom forskningsanläggningarna, med fokus på sina pågående insektsprojekt.
Last month, Giulio Zorzetto from our research group participated in the ‘Edible Insects: the value chain‘ symposium hosted by Wageningen University at Ede, Netherlands. The symposium celebrated 10 years of research related to the utilization of insects as novel food and feed. Giulio contributed to the event by presenting a poster on the cold storage of early instar of the black soldier fly in order to provide a buffer of available larvae to black soldier fly farms. Click here to access the presentation.PC: Wageningen University, Netherlands