GULU – Extremely hot weather has hampered efforts by poultry and fish farmers in parts of Acholi sub region to breed black soldier fly larvae as alternative feeds for fish and poultry.
In Omoro, Gulu and Amuru, 10 farmer groups were selected to breed black soldier fly larvae under a project by Farm Radio International and Makerere University Insect Feeds Project.
Five of the groups, were poultry farmers and the other five, were fish farming groups. These groups were identified and trained in 2017 on breeding black soldier fly larvae as alternative feeds for their poultry and fishing projects.
The project aimed at introducing the farmers to alternative feeds following high cost of feeds which was putting many farmers out of business.
But the farmers managed to breed the larvae for only one season because of extreme hot weather which killed the larvae and the parent stock.
Adong Sarah, a small-scale poultry farmer who was trained as a trainer of trainers said the black soldier fly larvae contain more protein compared to silver fish.
“Black soldier flies were introduced following an outcry by poultry and fish farmers over the high cost of feeds like silver fish and reports of fake feeds on the market,” Adong said.
Adong further said, that there is competition for silver fish between humans and fish and poultry making black soldier fly larvae a good alternative.
“Sometimes when the price of silver fish goes up, a farmer has to decide who gets it fast, himself or his poultry or his fish farm. In the end, the farmer will become priority while poultry and fish are neglected,” she said.
She added that, “We have also had issues of poor quality of silver fish where some sellers tend to mix silver fish with sand which compromises on the quality of fish or poultry.”
Adong said that constructing a cage for flies costs Shs 360,000 and explained how the larvae from the black soldier flies are bred.
“The first thing you need to do is build a cage for the black soldier flies. Then prepare the feeds in containers which can be jerrycans or buckets. The feeds can be kitchen peelings like potatoes, cassava, matooke or you can use the residue of Ajono-a local brew made from millet,” she said.
Adong says that you then put the larvae into the fresh feeds and place the containers in the cage where they will turn into young flies and start laying eggs; then the larvae in a period of two weeks.
She says a farmer can harvest the larvae as regularly as they want as long as they plan well adding that one can also dry the larvae, crash into powder and mix with maize or rice bran to feed fish and poultry.
Omoya Michael, a poultry farmer in Bwobomanam, Ongako sub county in Omoro district who was trained on breeding the soldier fly larvae says, “Everything about the project was good but the high temperatures disturbed us. The eggs hatched but died because of too much heat.”
Omoya however, said that he has started preparing to resume breeding of the larvae because of their high protein content which is needed for faster growth of chicken.
“This time round, I will be breeding the flies during rainy season to feed my Kuroiler chicken and crash the excess to use in the dry season,” he said.
Olara David, another poultry farmer in Acet, Odek Sub County in Omoro district wants to give the project another attempt, saying his chicken looked better when they were fed on the larvae.
“The chicken matured faster. Even my friends who are fish farmers testified that the larvae were good but the extreme hot weather failed us. Most of the larvae died and we ended up losing even stock to continue breeding. However, I am now looking for parent stock to resume,” he said.
Acaye Alfonse, the Gulu District Entomologist attributed the failure of the project to poor attitude of farmers to adapt to new methods of farming.
“The cost of feeding poultry and fish is cheaper when farmers use larvae from black soldier flies but farmers have failed to understand this because they do not take records of the cost of production. For example, fish fed on the larvae will gain 500 or more grams in four months or less compared to other feeds which can take six months,” he said.
Acaye noted that there was need to change the mindset of farmers towards minimizing the amount of time spent on production.
“We need to train our farmers to understand that the shorter the turnover time, the better it is for their business. At the moment, our farmers are using traditional methods of farming which are not cost effective,” he said.
Joan Nakiyemba, an entomologist who was a research assistant under the project with Makerere University agrees that extreme hot weather is bad for the black soldier flies as they will not lay eggs which are needed for the larvae.
She however advised farmers to be creative by sprinkling water as a remedy whenever the weather is hot.
A basin of silver fish at Gulu main market costs Shs 50,000 shillings while a kilogram of mixed feeds costs Shs 1,200.
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