Talash Hujibers is the founder of InsectiPro, a farm in Limuru where she rears crickets for human consumption and black soldier fly for animal feeds.
The agriprenuer studied in Netherlands and after obtaining her degree, she returned to Kenya to invest in farming.
Initially, Talash wanted to put her money in fish farming but she realized the shortage of feeds protein in the market.
Here is her story as told by WoK.
Talash studied in Netherlands where she had been pursuing a degree in International Food and Agribusiness.
She then returned to Kenya to invest in agribusiness in a bid to put to effect what she had learnt in school.
In an interview with Nation, she noted that her initial plan was to invest in fish farming but she realized the high demand for protein feeds in the market.
With Ksh 250,000 as starting capital, Talash founded InsectiPro in November 2018.
“InsectiPro is here to tackle two of the biggest challenges that Africa is going to face in the coming decade: food production and waste
“We feel that these two challenges go hand in hand. We want to disrupt the existing food value chain and encourage circular production methods,” she said.
At the farm, she rears black soldier fly and crickets.
The back soldier fly larvae takes 10 days to grow having been fed on fruit waste that she sources from markets within Nairobi.
“We take the green waste and we turn it into animal protein. We hope that by introducing crickets, there will be a progressive appreciation for edible insects as viable animal protein substitutes in Kenya,” she said.
Talash explained that crickets can be eaten as a whole, crunchy snack or as a powder that can be mixed with a range of foods.
She noted that cricket powder can be added to foods such as ugali, chapati, cookies, baby formula and smoothies among others.
The farm processes around 20 to 30 tonnes of fruit waste every day and produces up to 1.5 tons of larvae, which are then dried and turned into animal feed.
While she sells a kilo of cricket powder for Ksh 2,500, the larvae sells at Ksh 120 a kilo and the fertiliser at Ksh 30 a kilo.
“The powder we produce is used to fortify porridge, mainly for a school feeding program. We are currently conducting research and development on various production models to scale output of crickets
“Our goal is to double our cricket-producing capacity in the next one year and produce three tonnes of dry cricket products in the next three years,” Talash noted.
Talash also makes cricket snacks called Chirrups, crickets that are dried in a microwave oven that retail at Ksh 100 for 20grams, and can last for up to four months.
Elsewhere, with the support of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, (ICIPE), Talash was running production trials on mealworms and grasshoppers.
“We have worked with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) in conjunction with ICIPE to ensure that we have food safe production standards and policies guiding cricket production, processing, and commercialisation in Kenya,” she stated.
Talash hopes to expand to Uganda, Rwanda and Ghana.
“We hope to increase the current production capabilities to be able to take up more waste and expand our edible insect lines into grasshoppers and also experiment with palm weevils and mealworms,” she added.