Insect Feed for Aquaculture Sustainability

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Below is a link to a benefit cost analysis that I conducted on a hypothetically proposed project to utilize insects as a source of protein for rainbow trout farms in the Western Cape of South Africa. The proposed project replaced 50% of the currently used fish meal -a primary protein component of aquaculture feed- with commercially raised insects.

This project was proposed as a hypothetical means to find a more resource efficient, and cost effective replacement for fish meal- the current production of which relies largely on the highly inefficient sourcing wild stocks of fish. The issues regarding the production of fish meal are becoming a rising concern for countries around the world due to the increased production that has come from the increasing global demand for farmed fish. This rising demand has also resulted in record high prices of fish meal worldwide.

One proposed solution to this issue, that the United Nations Department of Food and Agriculture has drawn recent attention to in their report Edible Insects, is the use of insects as a means to supplement protein in livestock feeds.

As the report reflects, insects are extremely efficient energy converters, require very little natural resources to cultivate, and are able to recycle organic waste. For these reasons the current evidence and research on the topic strongly suggests that the commercial cultivation and utilization of insects may play a crucial role in securing future food system sustainability.

Attempting to monetize and calculate the many potential variables associated with this project proved to be quite difficult, with very few large scale scientific studies done to allow for accurate long term projections of efficiency. For this reason the analysis focuses on only several of the primary environmental and financial aspects. Although in depth consideration of many of the potential costs and benefits was unfortunately out of the scope of this project, the analysis does help portray the more basic potential benefits that fish farm operations may stand to gain from beginning to utilize insects as a feed input.

The analysis shows a BCR of 2.395 with net benefits of $5,576,763.39 over the 15 year horizon based on a discount rate of 5.75%

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