Livestock farmers are being encouraged to consider the production of alternative sources of feed for their livestock.
This has become necessary due to the high cost of feed in the country.
Studies by three PhD students under the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI)-Sterling University-Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) collaborative research project show that the use of novel protein feed sources such as microalgae and insects are sure ways of improving supplementary protein self-sufficiency.
At a workshop in Accra on September 12, the researchers, namely ;Hettie Awo Boafo, Emmanuel Nkegbe and Siegfried Affedzie-Obresi, made presentations on the health and safety in alternative protein, substrates for larvae production and the growth and economic performance in alternative protein broiler feed.
The workshop was organised by the Sustainable Agricultural Intensification Research and Learning in Africa (SAIRLA) Ghana National Learning Alliance (GH-NLA) to promote the use of alternative protein feed sources for sustainable intensification of livestock agriculture.
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The studies revealed that there was an increased demand for meat, especially in developing countries due to the rise in standard of living.
It indicated that if fish meal was replaced with insect protein, there was not going to be much difference in the nutrient content, because insects also had nutrients such as ion, vitamins A and B, and essential amino acids.
Other studies show that about 100 grammes of caterpillar provided 75 per cent of the daily amount of protein required by humans.
In relation to production, insects have low environmental issues as compared with conventional feed because less space was needed to grow them.
The studies also revealed that insects released less greenhouse gases and use less water than other conventional feeds; producing insects is cheaper because they feed on organic waste substances; using them as feed for livestock has no health implication; and are readily available.
Stakeholders at the workshop suggested that to move the idea of alternative protein feed sources for sustainable intensification of livestock agriculture, there was the need for investment; policy intervention; and promotional investment that demystify the use of larvae, project the health benefits of alternative feed and emphasise the wholesomeness of the meat from the livestock.
The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) forecasts a substantial increase in the demand for animal protein driven by a rapidly growing world population; income growth; urbanisation and changes in lifestyles and food preferences.
It predicted that world feed production would have to increase by 70 per cent to able to feed the world in 2050.
It stated that the need to find alternative and sustainable proteins was an issue of major importance that needed a short-term viable solution which made insects an increasingly attractive feed option.