Protein transition in Colombia: insects as feed in a circular agriculture

Dicke, Marcel; Aartsma, Yavanna; Barragán-Fonseca, Karol B.


To feed the forecasted nine or ten billion people in 2050, an increase in food production based on current production methods is not feasible. Novel methods need to be developed to generate sufficient food of high quality in a sustainable way. The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality aims to develop circular agriculture to develop such innovative ways of producing high quality food with a lower ecological footprint. One of the challenges of food security is to provide sufficient proteins. Currently, livestock is produced as protein source and they are fed with protein sources that can also be used as food for humans, such as cereals, soybeans and fishmeal. An emerging alternative for these protein sources is provided by insects. Insects are high in protein levels and various species can be reared on organic left-over streams that cannot serve as food for humans. Colombia imports large volumes of cereals and soybeans as protein components of feed for livestock and two thirds of this is used by the poultry sector. This is not sustainable and alternatives are needed, preferably generated through circular approaches. Internationally, many initiatives have been made to develop insects as feed, especially in Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. With partners from Colombia and the Netherlands, we have investigated the opportunities of developing insects for feed in Colombia, with a focus on the black soldier fly, a species that is used worldwide as feed and that originates from the tropical and subtropical American regions. The consortium consisted of small and large private industry, academia and the Dutch embassy in Bogotá. We have identified the opportunities, challenges as well as legislation and knowledge needs. We conclude that there is great interest in developing black soldier flies for feed in Colombia by (a) insect farmers, (b) poultry farmers, (c) feed producers and (d) academia. Dutch private industry and academia are willing to help in developing this transition. There is a good basis for addressing the local knowledge gaps. The results of this SMP will be used for developing a plan for the next steps.