The Observers

DR Congo: Raising larvae a new solution for food security, environment and economy

Insect larvae are an economic and environmentally friendly form of protein being produced in DR Congo.
Insect larvae are an economic and environmentally friendly form of protein being produced in DR Congo. © Observers

For several months now, Murhula Zigabe has been breeding black soldier flies in Bukavu, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The flies' larvae feed on food waste and are themselves used by local breeders to feed fish, chickens and pigs. Less expensive than traditional animal proteins, Zigabe believes these insects can help combat food insecurity in the region.

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In 2018, Zigabe created the company Briquette du Kivu, producing ecological charcoal from organic waste collected from streets or households, like corn cobs and banana peels. It's an environmentally friendly replacement for commonly used charcoal, which contributes to deforestation.

'Every year, DR Congo spends about 2 billion dollars to import food for humans and animals. But much of it is not even consumed and ends up in the garbage'

Not all food waste can be used to make eco-charcoal, such as rotten fruits and vegetables. The entrepreneur decided to use these leftovers to feed black soldier fly larvae, which he started breeding in April 2021.

Black soldier flies do not bite or eat: they only drink water and lay eggs, which we collect. When they hatch, we get larvae, which we feed with the waste collected: orange, mango, papaya peels, etc. Two weeks later, the larvae are large and very rich in protein. They can then be used to feed fish, chickens and pigs.

As the world's population and demand for protein continue to grow, insect protein can "contribute to human and animal food security", according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Insects are everywhere, they reproduce quickly, they are nutritious and their production has a low environmental impact, compared to plant proteins such as soy.

This week on The Observers [see video above] we spoke to Zigabe about his larvae project and how it is helping farmers in his region, both economically and environmentally.