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Cycle Farms opens first insect-based fish feed factory in Ghana

BY: Graphic Online

Cycle Farms, a French-owned biotechnology company, has inaugurated its first factory in Tema, Ghana, on 2nd April 2019, raising the prospect of lower fish feed prices, a major hindrance to the expansion of aquaculture production in Africa.

Although substantial amounts of fish meal are exported from West Africa to feed fish arms in Asia, almost all aquaculture production in Africa is based on imported soya bean.

The objective of producing insect-based feed for fish and poultry production has been seen as the most sustainable means for the future (FAO).

Black soldier fly (BSF) larva has been identified by several research groups as a viable alternative source of protein to fish meal for feed. Cycle Farms’ initiative is the first industrial scale BSF larvae production in Ghana. The company will use its insect meal to produce a complete feed for Ghana’s Tilapia industry.

Marc-Antoine Luraschi, CEO of Cycle Farms, said that the company was attracted to Ghana by the stable economic environment and the maturity of the fish production sector. Starting from a modest 3500 metric tons in 2019, production will be steadily scaled up to satisfy the expanding Ghanaian market. From Ghana, he said, “the company hopes to move to other African countries to support aquaculture and poultry industries.

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Aquaculture is crucial to the African population’s nutrition. Fish production needs to be increased to meet domestic needs, and local production will save substantial amounts which are spent on imports. We want to lend a hand in this area”.

The Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens, family Stratiomydae, order Diptera) is a species of fly that is already present in Ghana and has been studied by researchers at the University of Ghana - Legon, The University of Development Studies - Tamale, The CSIR Water Research Institute, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute of the Ghana energy commission, Ghana Wild Life Department, CABI and others. The Researches show that Black Soldier Fly larvae rearing is an environmentally friendly and economical way for local protein production. At Cycle Farms Ghana (CFG), the larvae are fed with a large panel of fruit and vegetable bio-waste locally sourced.

The company then uses its own-produced insects and several other ingredients to produce fish feed from 33 to 56% proteins, to fit all the tilapia life stages needs.
Floran Laville, Chief Technical Officer, said that “The company’s focus now is on the production of feed for fingerlings, because the ones of the market are mostly imported. We are producing high quality feed which will enable the fish to achieve optimum size and health. This is crucial, if you want to harvest tilapia of high quality and size”. CFG strategy is to focus on fingerlings feed production, but he does not rule out the possibility of providing specific products to meet the needs of a requesting client.

And he sees possibilities for adding catfish and shrimp feed production to their production activities in the near future.

The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Hon. Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, the guest of honour of the inauguration, echoed the concerns of the fish farmers when she said that a major requirement for maximising aquaculture production is the lowering of the 70% of the budget spent on feed, and urged the company to address this. The Minister commended CFG for these great innovations and a timely entry into Ghana’s Aquaculture industry. She said it has been the hope to have alternative source of animal protein for feed production which does not compete with human consumption.

She indicated, that insect is part of the natural wild fish food chain, therefore insect-based fish feed has the advantage of promoting good growth and an efficiency FCR in the fish.

She also said that government expects an environmentally sound production process and pledge the ministries cooperation with Cycle Farms Ghana by promoting the fish feed for the aquaculture sector with due diligence as she declared at Cycle Farms Ghana opening launched.

The Ghanaian Partner to Cycle Farms, Mr. Wisdom Abodakpi, an industrialist, thanked the Minister for launching the operations of CFG and assured her of compliance to best practices.

He also thanked the representative from the Ministries of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Business Development for their immense support to CFG.

Nonetheless, he requested the Government to provide more support to the company by waiving the domestic taxes that had been affecting the operations of CFG. Mr. Abodakpi, said, “We are providing employment and we can already boast of 70 employees in both direct and outsourced workforce, while not mentioning the huge quantities of raw materials we are sourcing locally from farmers which is a key guarantee to Government flagship project of planting food and creating jobs. CFG is not just producing fish feed but also contributing to the ecosystem as we process food bio-waste for our insect, which is a huge problem for Government and society to manage.

Our operations addresses these environmental challenges and we would expect that the Government to do more to sustain CFG’s operations”.
CFG Sales and Business Developer Manager, Miss. Anaïs Legendre, said that “In addition to moderate feed prices, customers can expect high quality feed and support on farming needs.

Overall, our prices are moderate, especially when you take into consideration the protein content and the fresh nature of the feed. We are confident that our products will make a major impact on aquaculture production”.

Ghana’s attraction as a fish feed investment destination has been given another boost by Cycle Farms Ghana arrival as the new fish feed producers for the Ghanaian Tilapia industry. ‘We are coming on stream at just the right time’, she said.