FINCA Ventures: Supporting Innovative Approaches to Sustainable Waste Management in East Africa

In East Africa, over 30 percent of food produced is spoiled due to a lack of proper post-harvest storage and route to market and in Tanzania alone, 26K tons of food waste is produced per day. Countries across sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing challenges with waste management. More than 90 percent of waste generated in Africa is disposed of at uncontrolled dumpsites and landfills, often with associated open burning, which results in the generation of greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change.

Food waste is the largest component going into municipal landfills and one third of all CO2 and methane produced worldwide is by organic waste. At the same time, Africa’s population is expected to double by 2050 to reach 2.5B people and this growth in population, alongside rising incomes, is spurring animal protein demand across the continent, with near term projected growth in consumption annually between 2-3% across major protein categories. The high cost of feed, which accounts for 60–70 percent of production costs, is currently a constraint on animal production. Fishmeal, which is the most prevalent protein source in conventional chicken feed and is unreliable and unsustainable to collect, is the only source of protein that is currently available, and prices are continuing to climb across the continent as a result.

Benefits of Black Soldier Flies

A strong need to support innovative models cutting across local waste management and agro-input ecosystems is why FINCA Ventures invested in Chanzi, a Tanzanian company founded in 2019 that designs and operates breeding and production facilities for black soldier fly (BSF) larvae to produce animal feed protein additives. Chanzi purchases / offtakes unwanted food waste from smallholder farmers, commercial farms, urban markets, and businesses, converts the food waste into protein using BSF larvae, and sells the feed additive to livestock, poultry and fish farmers, agrodealers, and feed mills across Tanzania (and soon in Kenya).

Anaerobic digestion, composting, and waste-to-energy facilities are among the more environmentally friendly methods of alternative waste treatment that more African countries are adopting. The use of Black soldier flies in organic waste composting is a self-sustaining, economical approach that produces high resource recovery and value-added products like organic fertilizer and protein additives for animal feed. Through the circular nature of BSF production, BSF can gain up to 5000 times their body weight in just two weeks by consuming organic waste.

BSF larvae is a sustainable alternative to two of the main animal feeds: fish meal and soy. As a matter of fact, 37 percent of fish caught globally goes into animal feed and 70 percent of the global fish stock is fully used, overused or in crisis. Soy is the second largest contributor to deforestation globally. BSF can produce 2500 times more protein per acre per year than soy, using less water and land, and generally has higher levels of amino acids, fat and cholesterol. Insect use as a protein source is estimated to reduce the protein cost of feed production by between 25-37.5 percent, which increases affordability for smallholder farmers.

An Environmentally Driven Team

Chanzi was founded by Sune Mushendwa, an architect by trade who went through multiple iterations to land on the model that Chanzi replicates, and regularly updates, across its facilities today. Chanzi’s co-founder and CEO, Andrew Wallace, had previous experience at Victory Farms, a fish farming operation in Kenya, where he experienced firsthand the impact of rising feed prices on production and revenue growth for both the company and its outgrowers. The founders joined together through their commitment to reducing the environmental impact of food waste that is not properly treated and animal feed that is unsustainably produced.

Sustainable Waste Management

Currently, Chanzi has a total of three sites in Arusha, Dar es Salaam, and Zanzibar and is in the process of launching its first site in Kenya in Nairobi. Each production site has 42 greenhouses that are used to grow the larvae. Additionally, there are areas for waste processing, hatchery caging for breeding, and blanching, drying, and grinding. From 18MT of food waste, 5MT of by-product is produced and after drying, is turned into 3MT of larvae and 2MT of fertilizer per day. Chanzi sells whole dried BSF larvae, ground BSF larvae and organic fertilizer to its customers.

From an environmental perspective, a single Chanzi site is avoiding producing 0.4 MT of methane per day and 9.4 MT of CO2 per day, all of which is equivalent to taking 642 cars off the road or planting 49K fully grown trees annually. When comparing BSF production to soya farming, BSF farming demands significantly less land than soya farming to produce an equivalent amount of protein per year.

Chanzi’s waste management division eases the burden on the infrastructure of the nearby landfills. In addition to free waste collection from local markets and payment by volume for delivery to factory gate through their network of registered waste aggregation brokers, Chanzi offers smallholder farmers additional earning opportunities for their spoiled crops. Chanzi also sees an opportunity to source for brewer spent grain and waste from local breweries in Tanzania. The spent grain will be combined with organic food waste from the community to provide a better-quality feed for the BSF.

Chanzi’s Bottom Line

What makes Chanzi unique is that they take an extremely localized approach in both waste collection and product sales to reduce unnecessary operational and logistics costs. Chanzi can produce insect protein at $1.90 per kg, compared to fishmeal which costs $4.30 per kg and soybean meal which costs $2.20 per kg. Additionally, the Chanzi production model has found a blend of mechanization and labor-intensive production that contributes to greater employment opportunities in Tanzania and beyond, while embedding themselves in the local waste management and agro-input ecosystems.

Feed production for both aquaculture and meat livestock are rapidly growing across East Africa. There is a 1.5 million MT annual chicken feed demand in Tanzania alone. The global black soldier fly market is expected to reach $3.4B by 2030 with a CAGR of 34.7 percent from 2020 to 2030. FINCA is proud to be partnering with Chanzi to capture this market opportunity, reduce CO2 and methane emissions one city at a time through innovative food waste processing techniques, and provide more affordable feed solutions to smallholder farmers across East Africa.