Saudi Arabia to host region’s first fly farm, says leading waste-to-nutrient company

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is to host the region’s first fly farm in a licensing deal between Saudi technology hub Sajt and waste-to-nutrient company AgriProtein. The agreement signals the start of a new industry for the region: commercial-scale production of insect-based animal feed, the company announced. Sajt will use AgriProtein’s factory blueprint to build the first of three fly farms in Saudi Arabia, boosting food security and supporting Vision 2030.

FlyAnnouncing the agreement the Vice-President of Sajt said, “The Kingdom is currently entirely reliant on imported feed for the burgeoning aquaculture and poultry industries. AgriProtein’s world-leading technology will help us to deliver on several Vision 2030 goals, as well as supporting the Ministry of Agriculture’s food security objectives. With AgriProtein, we can now produce sustainable, natural protein locally, and in time completely do away with reliance on imported feed.”

The world’s biggest fly-farmer, AgriProtein has developed a blueprint for mass-production of sustainable animal feeds as an alternative to fishmeal widely used in aquaculture and agriculture.

“We’re delighted that Sajt shares our vision. Fishmeal production is destroying the marine environment. Replacing it with insect meal leaves more fish in the sea for human consumption, allows the oceans to heal and reduces greenhouse gases at every stage of the supply chain from point-of-catch to point-of-sale. We estimate an environmental cost saving of USD 2000 per tonne in reduced CO2,” said AgriProtein co-founder and CEO Jason Drew.

The partners believe this is the ideal time to launch the initiative. The Kingdom’s agricultural sector is predicted to rise to USD 1.7 billion within the next four years. Farmed fish volumes are expected to reach one million tonnes per year and Saudi poultry production is set to increase 52% by 2018, driven by government plans to achieve self-sufficiency. And with water conservation a key priority in the region, insect protein production is said to be much more water-efficient than other protein production processes.

A Cleantech Global Top 100 company, AgriProtein’s technology also helps tackle local waste disposal issues by rearing insects on organic waste that would otherwise go to landfill.  Each fly farm has a population of 8.5 billion black soldier flies (BSF) able to convert 250 tonnes of organic waste per day (91,000 tonnes per year) into protein easily assimilated by fish and poultry, with a similar amino acid and protein profile to fishmeal, the company said, adding that unlike houseflies, BSFs avoid human habitations and are not considered pests or vectors for disease.

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