If you ask any enterprising entrepreneur out there to think of a new and innovative idea to solve the issues we have today, it is highly unlikely that the first thing that comes to mind are insects
Insectta, Singapore’s first urban insect farm, did exactly that however. The farm houses an uncountable number of black soldier flies, swarming in netted enclosure, turning walls into squirming black masses. But these flies are not the true prize of this farm. The true value of the farm actually lies in the hundreds of plump, writhing maggots that it breeds.
The purpose of these maggots? To recycle Singapore’s food waste.
“With insect farming, it’s a very new concept. We want to break ceilings and invent the wheel,” said Insectta’s co-founder, Chua Kai-Ning.
Food waste makes up approximately 10 per cent of all refuse in Singapore. Unfortunately, only 17 per cent of said food waste in recycled. The remainder are sent to the incinerator, which tends to have several negative impacts on the environment.
The idea of utilising black soldier flies, which are native to Singapore’s forests, when Chua and her fellow co-founders were thinking of a sustainable way to combat Singapore’s food waste issue.
Black soldier fly larvae are voracious eaters, being able to eat up to four times their body weight in a single day. They mature quickly too, making the recycling process much faster. The larvae excrement is an organic soil like matter that is then turned into fertiliser that are sold to consumers. Each month, about 6.5 tonnes of food can be turned into 2,700 litres of organic fertiliser.
Thanks to the speed by which the insects breed, excess larvae is sold to pet stores and fish farms to be used as feed.
Black flies do not bite, nor do they transmit diseases. Regardless, the Singapore authorities still had to draft up new regulatory frameworks due to how new the idea of insect cultivation is to Singapore.
Outside of Singapore, insect farming is fast catching on in countries such as Indonesia, China, and South Africa.