Start-up taps insects to make feed and fertilizer from waste

  • By Lichelle Carlos
  • 21 July 2023

The start-up venture Insiklo is turning market and household wastes into feed and fertilizer with the help of the insect black soldier fly (BSF). Every week, about 500 kg of market waste from Los Baños municipality are sent to Insiklo facility. The larvae of BSF devour food scrap, agricultural debris, and manure, reducing the waste volume and odor into a nutrient-rich compost for use as organic fertilizer on crops. The mature larvae are then harvested and processed into high-protein feed for livestock, poultry, and fish.

The Insiklo bioconversion facility rears black soldier fly larvae that convert organic waste into animal feed and compost for crop production.The Insiklo bioconversion facility rears black soldier fly larvae that convert organic waste into animal feed and compost for crop production.

The SEARCA Grants for Research towards Agricultural Innovative Solutions (GRAINS) was awarded in 2022 to support Insiklo founder Joseph Navasero in elevating the BSF waste bioconversion system. SEARCA Director Dr. Glenn Gregorio said, "This demonstration of repeatedly turning organic waste into valuable farming resources is the essence of circular agriculture in action."

The Insiklo project boosted the conversion yield five times by switching to a vertical modular set-up compared with the traditional concrete beds. The project also created a faster way of physically separating the larvae from the compost using sieves. With optimum temperature, humidity, and substrate conditions the insect rearing system has raised the monthly production capacity of Insiklo between half-ton and two tons of BSF larvae.

Insiklo aims to create a lasting, transformative impact on organic waste management and agricultural sustainability. "By promoting sustainable waste transformation, resource recovery, and agricultural innovation, the project contributes to building a more environmentally conscious and economically vibrant region," said Mr. Navasero.

With GRAINS support, Insiklo has established protocols in processing and packaging larvae and compost. The compost is suitable for growing leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, pechay, and mustard. However, Insiklo reported challenges in marketing organic compost; it recommended raising awareness among potential customers and farmers.

A modular set-up of Insiklo treats up to 750 kg of biowaste and produces 150 kg of fresh larvae with up to 75 kg of compost every 15 days. A range of industry clients are attracted to Insiklo for various applications, such as real estate waste management, poultry manure processing for feed mills and tilapia cage operators, and food waste treatment for meat processing plants. With this growing interest, Insiklo aims to increase larvae production up to 50 tons a month.

Atty. Eric Reynoso, SEARCA program head, Emerging Innovation for Growth Department (EIGD), lauded agritechnology ventures as key to sustainable food production. "Through SEARCA GRAINS, we call on innovators from Southeast Asian countries to pursue their ideas for commercialization and agricultural transformation."