By Vision Reporter
Rehmah Nakyeyune, 25, a resident of Najjera in Wakiso district, peers through her plastic vats where maggots wriggle in decomposing filth. Nakyeyune rears maggots, which she uses to feed her poultry.
Her enviable project on Monday attracted over 150 farmers and experts, who visited to learn from her experience in using maggots as a cheaper option compared to other poultry feeds.
They said maggots are the larvae of the Black Soldier Flies (BSF), an insect whose digestive system effectively turns food waste into organic fertiliser.
Nakyeyune said when Russia invaded Ukraine last March, poultry feed prices shot up after the supply of essential ingredients was cut off.
In a week, Nakyeyune would spend at least sh650,000 on poultry feeds.
“This was a lot of money spent with no profits,” she said.
As a result, Nakyeyune started doing research on cheaper options of poultry feeds via YouTube.
“This is where I found some guides about maggot farming,” she added,
After learning of maggot farmers like Nakyeyune, entomologists from Makerere University, led by Dr Deborah Ruth Amulen, launched a programme to encourage farmers to keep maggots as an alternative method of improving agriculture and livestock farming in response to fertiliser and animal feeds shortages.
The launch that took place on Monday, was themed: Scaling a cost-effective and quality black soldier fly insect larvae enterprise for COVID-19 livelihood resilience in Uganda.
Animal feeds and fertiliser prices have doubled or tripled, with some popular ingredients now hard to find on the market, according to the African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership, a non-profit organisation that supports agriculture across the continent.
During a presentation that involved experts, farmers, students and district entomologists on Monday, Amulen explained that maggots feed on waste and that they make good food for pigs, poultry and fish since they are rich in proteins.
Amulen said maggots do not only benefit animals and the environment, but “the application of maggot farming could afford profound opportunities to accelerate the advancement of people in low-income areas by boosting their economic status”.
She said fertilisers made from maggots could be exported to other countries, adding that Ugandan maggots are the best since they feed on organic waste.
Amulen and her team have successfully set up the Centre for Insect Research and Development for BSF larvae in Kawanda, Wakiso district, as a demonstration farm for large-scale BSF rearing. This is intended to attract more farmers to the business.
Makerere University, in partnership with the Michigan State University, has taken a step closer to design the PEER project to address the scientific questions while supporting over 100 youth and women engaged in BSF farming to earn money from the maggots.
Others speak out
Prof. Eric Benbow of Michigan State University in the US said maggot farming requires a lot of advice and funding.
“Maggots are very nutritious to livestock, but farmers need a lot of training to earn more from them,” he suggested.
Lawrence Tusimomuhangi, the assistant commissioner of production entomology at the agriculture ministry, said the Government is convinced about the benefits of maggot farming, adding that “we cannot wait to support interested farmers”.