Aquaculture for all

Fly farms set for Saudi Arabia


A licensing deal to build three fly farms in Saudi Arabia has been signed between Saudi technology hub Sajt and waste-to-nutrient pioneer AgriProtein this week.

The agreement signals the start of a new industry for the Middle East: commercial-scale production of insect-based animal feed, based on AgriProtein’s factory blueprint.

Announcing the agreement, a spokesperson for Sajt explained: “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.

AgriProtein’s co-founder and CEO Jason Drew said: "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.”

The partners believe this is the ideal time to launch the initiative – the country’s 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 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. Unlike houseflies, BSFs avoid human habitations and are not considered pests or vectors for disease.

The company is rapidly expanding globally, and the KSA deal follows similar agreements in the United States, South America and Africa, as well as one in Australasia with Twynam Group to build 20 factories.

In February AgriProtein announced a partnership with Austrian engineers Christof Industries enabling it to roll out its fly farm blueprint on a turnkey basis anywhere in the world.

In addition to insect meal, AgriProtein produces an oil which is currently being tested at KAUST’s Centre for Clean Burning Energy. Earlier this month AgriProtein won an award for its advances in insect-based protein research presented by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco at CleanEquity Monaco 2017. And in December last year it won an award for its industrially-scalable solution to the depletion of fish stocks in the Indian Ocean in the Australian government-backed Blue Economy Challenge 2016.