By Charity Wanja

Organic waste is a big challenge in all markets in the country, comprising about 80% of the garbage collected, and as we approach the rainy season in most parts of the country, it will be a hustle for the cleanup crews from the County governments to maintain a clean open air market.

Hence, Destiny Africa, through its founder George Mahinda Kinyanjui, found a solution for the county government and farmers through a trial project at Gakoromone Market in Meru County.

“We are responding to recycling organic waste in Gakoromone Market which is about 80% of the garbage that is dumped at Nkunga dumpsite. Organic waste from the market is a big nightmare for both the traders and county workers who keep the market clean,” he said.

“To avoid getting carbon dioxide and methane during organic waste management, we thought the best way to decompose it is using black soldier fly (BSF) insects. The BSF has a simple life cycle, the adult survives for only about a week to mate and lay eggs which become the larvae.”

Destiny Africa founder George Mahinda Kinyanjui in a cap overseeing the black soldier fly project with county officers from various county departments at the Gakoromone Open Air Market
Trays where the organic waste is put for the larvae to feed on

“The larvae eat organic waste to produce organic fertilizer and the larvae are also a good source of crude protein (60%) for animal feed. That means you can cut cost of buying soya and omena for your livestock,” said Mahinda whose idea helped Meru County win the Global Mayor’s challenge by Bloomberg philanthropists, the competition designed to spark innovative, replicable ideas for improving cities, and the lives of people living in them, by encouraging leaders to think outside the box about how to confront their most difficult challenges.

The black soldier flies (BSF) were selected for this project since they are safe and do not transmit any diseases and consume the organic waste turning it into fertilizer while the excess larvae can be used as crude protein for animal feed hence leaving zero residue of pollution and land filling.

Black soldier larvae

For the project to be effective Destiny Africa had to teach traders of the market how to sort out the garbage in various bins ranging from organic waste, plastics and metallic. This has enabled the traders to make an extra coin in selling the organic waste to livestock farmers leaving behind little waste for the county government to clean up. This is helping the project not to have a pile up of organic waste and the little that is left is fed to the BSF.

Patrick Kirimi, a cabbage trader and farmer is impressed with the organic fertilizer produced by the BSF larvae.

” Once they start selling I will be the first one in line to buy and set up a greenhouse like this and produce my own fertilizer. We get goat manure for farming from Isiolo and its environs which costs about ksh30,000 (about USD 300)  to ksh 40,000 (about USD 400) to buy and transport. The larvae will save me a lot of money I spend on fertilizers,” said Kirimi, a trader at Gakoromone market.

Patrick (in black and grey coat) and other traders at the green house for demonstration on the larvae organic waste management at Gakoromone market

On the other hand, Retired Major Gideon Gitonga, a farmer in Gatimbi, Meru, once tried to keep the black soldier flies but failed. Gitonga depended on a YouTube tutorial but missed a few details on the construction of the green house that cost his larvae and black solider flies to die.

” I practice organic farming in my farm, when I first heard of BSF I was intrigued and wanted to learn more and use them to supplement protein for my fish and poultry. I spend about ksh 7,000 (about USD 70) to buy omena (silver fish), and about ksh 5,000 (about USD 50) to buy soya as protein for the livestock,”said the 70-year-old farmer after going through the demonstration project at Gakoromone Market.

“During the construction of my greenhouse I did not leave a place to regulate and monitor temperatures, the other thing that was amiss was the larvae cage. In the larvae cage the BSF would fly out and go lay their eggs in other parts of the greenhouse. That was my major failure but I am ready to pick up and continue BSF farming.”

Moses Mutharimi (green) demonstrates to farmer how black soldier larvae works to Retired Major Gideon Gitonga and his wife

The demonstration project was started with a 100g of five day old larvae at a cost of ksh 800 (about USD 8) locally sourced from a farm in Nyeri County. They were later put in trays of organic waste weighing 8kgs. The larvae were left to consume the waste for nine days before the older larvae is transferred to the larvae to the larvae cage for mating and breeding as mature black soldier flies.

The larva cage is a walking inn, cage made of a light cotton material with blocks of wood where the BSF lay eggs. Once the eggs are laid they are scrapped and put in a container which has a wet cotton wool with glucose and wheat barn as food. Once they reach five days old they are taken out and put in trays to consume organic waste.

Some of the challenges they have experienced in the project include; lack of cooperativeness from some of the traders who do not want to sort out the trash nor use one designated dumping site, during the rainy season there’s more organic waste since there is plenty of food for the livestock hence traders don’t sell their organic waste.

However, the biggest limitation in the project is the occasional cold weather experienced in Meru which is at the foot of Mount Kenya. The BSF require to be kept in warm temperatures’ ranging between 28 – 35 degrees Celsius while in Meru the temperatures can drop to as low as 4 degrees during the cold season.