Sustainable Waste-based Insect Farming Technologies (SWIFT) Project
Enabling and fostering the adoption of waste-based Black Soldier Fly (BSF) insect farming technologies for smallholder farmers and small and medium enterprises with a specific focus on Malawi and Uganda.
Waste-based BSF insect farming is a process that involves biowaste conversion by insect larvae, using the example of the Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens. Grown larvae are harvested for use as animal feed, while the residue and insect manure (frass) serve as an ideal soil amendment and fertilizer. By utilizing waste as a substrate to create value, this approach not only encourages recycling but also effectively mitigates its environmental impact.
This method offers opportunities for on-farm development or as a small to medium business, creating new livelihood prospects, especially for women and youth farmers or entrepreneurs.
This project fills research gaps to enable and foster adoption of this innovation by transdisciplinary research following the systemic approach of the Livelihood Platforms Approach, as well as the concept of technology adoption and innovation platforms.
For more information on BSF waste processing please visit the website from our collaborators at Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology).
The project follows four thematic research work packages (WP) and crosscutting activities (management, capacity development, a science-policy-practice dialogue, monitoring, evaluation, learning, adapting, disseminating and using).
- WP1: This work package aims to enhance the knowledge base of the development partners and practitioners by evaluating waste substrates in Mzuzu (Malawi) and in Jinja (Uganda) and for their potential suitability in insect farming. The assessment will involve field sampling, observations, interviews, surveys and multi-criteria analysis to inform effective waste management strategies and promote sustainable insect farming practices in these locations.
- WP2: The focus is on co-development of insect farming design, equipment and operations to establish adaptive blueprints and implement pilots in each country, to serve as demonstration and training sites.
- WP3: The assessment of insect products and markets, with special attention to market entry and the financial feasibility of farming operations. This involves market surveys, perception assessments, extension work with farmers, and cost-revenue modeling based on primary data from pilot units, aiming to develop business models, assess financial viability, and evaluate socio-economic impacts of various organizational setups.
- WP4: The evaluation of how community and institutions affect insect farming, comprising studies of institutional, legislative and economic enabling conditions. This includes evaluating the potential of carbon trading as financing mechanism, as well as assessment of legislative and institutional barriers and opportunities, using research methods such as interviews.
The project outcomes include increased awareness among farmers and entrepreneurs about waste suitability for insect farming, leading to their active engagement in setting up BSF facilities and adapting business models. Additionally, key actors from policy and practice collaborate to create a favorable environment for mainstreaming BSF opportunities.
The desired project impacts are: proven feasibility of insect farming by pilot farmers and entrepreneurs, pilot facilities as demonstration sites to foster support, and mainstreaming a favorable environment for implementing BSF insect farming. Overall, biowaste recycling through BSF farming should improve livelihoods, food security, smallholder farmers’ resilience and mitigates greenhouse gas emissions.
The Solid Waste Group at the Department of Sanitation, Water and Solid Waste for Development of Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, has joined forces with partners in Uganda and Malawi to receive close to 1’000’000 CHF funding for three years. The project team consists of research partners Dr. Frank Mnthambala at Mzuzu University in Malawi and Dr. Allan John Komakech Makerere University in Uganda. The development partners are Soil Food and Healthy Communities in Malawi and Bioconvision in Uganda. This project is funded through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.