A French-owned biotechnology company, Cycle Farms, has inaugurated its first factory in Ghana.
This has raised the prospect of lower fish feed prices, which is 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 farms 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, a release made available to the Daily Graphic has said.
Black Soldier Fly (BSF) larva has been identified by several research groups as a viable alternative source of protein to fish meal for feed.
The release said Cycle Farm’s initiative, therefore, was the first industrial scale BSF larvae production in Ghana, and the company sought to use its insect meal to produce a complete feed for Ghana’s Tilapia industry.
Stable economic environment
Addressing the inaugural ceremony, the Chief Executive Officer of Cycle Farms, Mr Marc-Antoine Luraschi, said that the company was attracted to Ghana by the stable economic environment and the maturity of the fish production sector, the release noted.
Starting from a modest 3,500 metric tons in 2019, he said production would be steadily scaled up to satisfy the expanding Ghanaian market.
The release announced that from Ghana, the company – sited in Tema – “hopes to move to other African countries to support aquaculture and poultry industries. 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,” he stated.
Black Soldier Fly
The Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens, family Stratiomydae, order Diptera) is a specie of fly that is already present in Ghana and has been studied by researchers at the University of Ghana, the University for Development Studies, 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 showed that the Black Soldier Fly larvae rearing was an environmentally friendly and economical way for local protein production.
At Cycle Farms Ghana, Mr Luraschi noted that the larvae were 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 per cent proteins, to meet all the tilapia life stages needs.
The release quoted the Chief Technical Officer, Floran Laville, as saying “the company’s focus now is on the production of feed for fingerlings, because the ones on 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”.
It said the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, who echoed concerns of the fish farmers, noted that a major requirement for maximising aquaculture production was the lowering of the 70 per cent of the budget spent on feed, and urged the company to address this.
She commended CFG for these great innovations and a timely entry into Ghana’s aquaculture industry, adding that it had been the hope to have alternative source of animal protein for feed production which did not compete with human consumption, the release stressed.
It said 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 with best practices.
The Sales and Business Developer Manager for CFG, Miss Anaïs Legendre, said “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”, the release added.