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Insight & Analysis - March 24, 2022

How Lucrative is Maggot Farming in Africa? Here is what we Know

Black soldier maggots are highly nutritious, with an average protein content of 65% and a fat content of 25%. With increasing demand, it’s shaping to become a lucrative business.

Insect farming is gradually taking root on the continent as different farmers are now emerging across Africa. In Zimbabwe, Brighton Zambezi, a technician turned farmer, heard about black soldier fly maggot farming on board a flight to South Africa to a business prospect.

From the conversation, Zambezi knew the maggots were the answer to the problem. With the enthusiastic response to his offer of wholesome, economical, and readily available chicken feed by farmers, he was motivated to start. 

In Harare, Zimbabwe, there is a need for a less expensive, more nutritious chicken feed for chicken farmers.

However, his attempt to import his first colony was impossible because it was expensive. He said, “I went to Mbare and other dumpsites in Harare” to find his initial breeding stock. Although it took him time, he has set up his maggot farm.

What expert says about black soldier fly maggot farming in Africa

Joseph Anesu Marova, a Zimbabwean specialist on the black soldier fly, believes that implementing maggot farming on a bigger scale might help alleviate the pressures of increased protein demand, particularly for meat and fish.

He said, “The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has estimated that population growth and increased demand for meat and fish will require 70% more feed for cattle by 2050.

This has put extra strain on arable land and further pressure on fish stocks; currently, a third of fish landed gets turned into fish meal for animal feeds”.

What farmers say about black soldier fly maggot farming in Africa

According to Zambezi, food waste from marketplaces is the best feed for the black soldier maggots. Hence, he goes to Mbare Musika, Zimbabwe’s largest fresh vegetable market, daily to get what the farmers dispose of.

He charges $100 for 600 grammes of larvae and $2,500 for a five-litre container. The maggots sells for 65 cents per kilogramme.

Zambezi also ventured into chicken farming and replaced traditional maize and sorghum-based chicken feed with his maggot-based feed. According to him, “Two weeks of maggot farming brings an output compared to three months of soya”.

As a result, he has gained a competitive advantage, allowing him to sell more chicken and make more money. He sells his free-range chicken for $3, while others charge $5 to $6. 

Also, Zambezi serves as an instructor to black soldier maggot farmers. “I have also done training in Botswana, Mozambique, and South Africa. People buy seed from me”, he said.

Another chicken farmer in Goromonzi, Treasure Mafuramiti, has also taken up black soldier fly farming and is enjoying the returns. His cost of production for his chickens has dropped by close to 50% since he started using black soldier fly feed.

Treasure Mafuramiti, a chicken farmer in Goromonzi, has also taken up black soldier fly farming and is reaping the benefits. Since he started utilising black soldier fly feed, his chicken production costs have reduced by nearly half.

This is because maggots are extremely nutritious, with an average protein content of 65% and a fat content of 25%, compared to 35% protein in a soy-based diet.

As a result, he is trying to add maggots to the menu of his pigs with the belief that it will transform his pig farming.

Challenges 

Black soldier fly maggot farming in Africa comes with its unique challenges. The time for increased production is in the summer, when the heat provides an ideal atmosphere for the ants to mate. 

However, the black soldier flies are inhibited from producing maggots with the cold in winter.  Zambezi was, however, able to solve the problem through the use of infrared lights.

Also, he is restricted in his ability to expand due to a lack of available space. As a result, his farm is nine square metres behind his family’s home. Nonetheless, Zambezi trusts in the potential of business endeavour.

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