Project Videos

You can find all our latest videos on the following links:

-  Why not learn how to set up your own Black Soldier Fly (BSF) Production System ? Here you’ll learn about the costs and benefits 

- And just for a quick overview of the project, find a link to our trailer - featuring our expert Emmanuel Kwakje at the Animal Research Institute

- At Ento-Prise we believe in insect for the future, in feed AND in food! This time, we went visiting other producers in Ghana for make grilled Akokono.

- If you’re interested in breeding your own BSF, you might be interested in watching the full process here - Ento Prise Ghana [Eng] 

- Si vous ĂȘtes voulez produire vos propre BSF, pourquoi ne pas regarder le processus complet ici Ento Prise Ghana [FR] 

This may be my last post in Ghana ; I hope you find this information interesting and useful, perhaps it might inspire some of you to start your own business (hopefully it won’t discourage others!) and remember, if you have any questions you can always reach us!

Ento-Prise Trailer

Our first Ento-Prise trailer video is now online, check it out if you'd like to learn more about our BSF production process and let us know if you like it!


Today we are testing for the effect of light and heat on the disposition of self-harvesting BSF.

24h at the insectarium- with data collection every hour

Aquaculture in the Volta region/Ghana - Sampling frame

Aquaculture in Africa is growing: from 55,690 tonnes in 2000 to almost 600,000 tonnes in 2010. Much of this growth is taking place in countries such as Ghana; and the vast majority of farmed fish in Africa are freshwater species, mainly the Nile tilapia and sharp-tooth catfish.

If we want to make a BSF by product that can be used in fish feed, we need to get a better understanding of the market and supply and demand. For this reason we identified and contacted 15 hatcheries and 2 broodstocks producers in the region to get their insight on the market and demand for feed:

10 « international » hatcheries
5 Ghanaian owned hatcheries
2 « outlier » hatcheries (i.e. : Kumasi, Winneba, Accra) + 1 outlier for the pilot testing

We were able to map the main actors in this part of the supply chain following this sampling frame:

1) Internet searching
The first step was to looking for the biggest hatcheries and the list of registered companies on the net, for instance on Sarnissa's Website and on Ghana's directory ( We also reached contacts at the Water Research Institute and at the MOFA to obtain a list of hatcheries.

2) Publications searching
Several publications gave us a list of companies in Ghana with their phone numbers. We drew from past researches to build on our knowledge of hatchery and broodstock producers in the region.

3) Key informant interviews
a. Jacques Magnee (Ranaan - feed producer)
b. Mark amechi (Tropo)
c. Marc Towers (West-Africa Fishes)
d. Mr Lee (broodstock producer and very famous among Tilapia producers, for his high quality broodstock strains)

4) Pilot testing at Wild gecko
Wild Gecko is a newly settled hatchery (less than 6 months old). It was selected for the pilot testing because it produces very small quantities, and has started the company with ornamental fishes, and is an « outlayer » for the sampling frame, They gave us a lengthy overview of farming industry and their perception of the fish sector in Ghana.
We then polished the questionnaire we had drawn and added more questions.

5) Snowball sampling
Once the questionnaire was settled, we contacted all the hatcheries on the list and set meetings with them. Every time, we asked them to rank and define the hatcheries around them (and among Ghana as well).We got a list of 16 hatcheries. 13 are on the Volta. 1 is in Kumasi (Outlayer) 1 is in Winneba (Outlayer), 1 in Accra (Outlayer).

6) Going down the Volta river
To be able to sharpen the sampling frame, we decided to use a boat going from Asetsuare to Ada (Volta estuary) to plot the remaining small hatcheries. From this we added 2 of them.

We asked them about the scale of their business, the type of feed they use, where they get it from and how many suppliers they have for it, and what they though about using BSF by-products in feed. We also took this chance to get their insight on the market as a whole, their experiences over the last 5 years and expectations for the next.

Testing the performance of our BSF feed on Tilapia Fish
An interesting aspect of this was to ask producers if they have any use with their dead fishes. Mortality rates can be pretty high, according to one of our interviewee about 10% of the amount produced per day (reaching up to 300kg for the the biggest fish farms - not hatcheries - around the lake) and representing in some cases nearly 125 000 Dollars loses per month.

This could represent an opportunity to supply nutritious waste for our BSF; yet some farms have already found a use for their dead fishes. They sometimes supply the Kobi market: smoked and salted grow-out fishes which are typical in the region. At times they also use them to feed the catfish they also produce on a smaller scale.

Overall, producers had an interest in novel feed ingredients. As one of our interviewee stated however, "cash is king" so the product will have to be competitive with other feeds. Ranaan fish feed, the most popular one used here, costs about 65GHS per bag of 25kg at the retailer and 58GHS (45% protein - 15-20% fat).

Flosell farm, Volta Region

Supermarket green waste

Throughout the months here we have also been checking to align the goals of our pilot-scale work at the insectarium with that of a commercial-scale maggot production under local on-farm conditions. We first calculated the amount of waste  needed to run all the bays and trays at the insectarium; the quantity of live+dired BSF larvae and kg of frass produced in that week; and the cost  for setting up and running this production system. Finally we outlined the following targets:

1: Identify the major green waste handlers in the city
2: Estimate how much  green waste those companies throw out per week – where does it go and what happens to it ?
3:  Find out the total costs incurred to dispose of it  - and potential for separating all plastic and other cardboard wastes from fruits and vegetables before disposing. 

We first went to all the major supermarket in town and the managers gave us an insight on the distribution system and key actors in this share of the supply chain. Freshmark, Edentree and Newrest have been stated by our key informant interviewees as the major procurement and distribution arm in the fruit and veg sector. Products (and quantities of) vary seasonally, yet estimations with past records showed supermarket suppliers could be a reliable alternative in Ghana to supply sufficient, constant and nutritious organic green waste to eventual commercial-scale insect producers. 

 Zoomlion and Asadu Royal Seed Waste Management are the companies those supermarket suppliers usually turn to to dispose of their unsaleable goods. Trucks come and collect the wastes three times a week to bring it to landfill; an expensive service individuals from this sector showed interest in substituting -particularly if it may benefit both their profit and the image of their company.

More on other potential food waste suppliers later...

Asadu Royal Seed and waste management

Are you thrilled?

After a 3 days footage at Madina market and the Animal Research Institute in Adenta, 
the Ento-Prise Video will be ready soon...  

Check our updates regularly and share our facebook page !!
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Pilot testing and focus group discussions in Ashaiman

One of the most important step before fully implementing a questionnaire is to test it with a trial run; a small-scale version of the larger project. Pilot testing is crucial to help catch potential issues and prevent them from escalating. This week we met with farmers in Ashaiman, gathered in small groups and with some guideline questions sat to discuss farming practices, the challenges they have to face those days and their perception of our BSF products. Together we also went through the questionnaire samples and made sure all the questions were relevant ; so as to ensure we'd be measuring the desired outcomes in the best way possible. For this event we brought a poster and small samples of dried BSF and compost to show them the appearance, texture and smell of the final product. People we spoke with there were very enthusiastic about the project. For them, organic fertilizers are the best solution to avoid soil pollution and help replenish soil nutrients and its fertility.
 At the end of the day we shared some of our BSF compost we had brought in a truck and thanked them for their time - as we say around here, crops can't afford to take any day off!

Worth the check

Today we are hopping between ag shops to get a better idea of nutrient costs and supply in the area. Emmanuel is tapping in an NPK goldmine here; Dizengoff's price are hard to compete with. The store is big, clean and there's plenty on offer. But it's the start of the new year, so just like with Aglow and Agrimat, we can't find the 50kg bag we were looking for. Someone tells us it shouldn't be long before they replenish and gives us a vague estimate of the price. At this point, everything seems to follow a general pattern. We make our way to smaller retailers and here... surprise: it's a 5 GHC win on the 1kg pack but an extra 10 GHC on the 50kg! As we're thinking, most of them buy from larger suppliers and, at this time of the year with empty stocks across town, they can afford for a small folly that won't hurt their business. 

The world's breadbasket

Key informant interview - Charles is the officer in charge at the Ghana Development Irrigation Authority and the principal agronomist at the Ashaiman site where he has trained farmers on techniques to grow their crops. He knows the area like the back of his hands so we sat for a while and he told me about the complex Ghanaian agri-business structure. He says farmers today have to face a number of challenges, from lack of soil nutrients, pest and diseases, water pollution and lack of machinery. But importantly he says there's a need for knowledge in best practices. For this reason, Charles is open to conducting BSF trials on the Ashaiman fields. Africa is the world's breadbasket, and we need to work together to improve food security, locally and globally. We talked for a long time; about farming sites, tribal dissociations, gender perceptions and youth and employment in the country. We walked the fields where the left side of the valley plunges onto the shadows and at the end of the day gathered around the table with a feast of local dishes. We will meet again soon for the farmers' surveys Mr. Adeku.  

Fufu meal with Mr. Adeku

Getting around

Personally i've always been a fan of maps. In relation to my previous post, it could always be helpful to check for a small sketch of the areas we'll survey. Fair enough, Ashaiman and the outskirts are not included here, but this will have to do. As you can see, Dzorwulu Roman Ridge and Abelemkpe are close to one another. That's good news because it means farmers could share transportation costs for a hypothetical BSF compost. For our next meeting,we'll try to understand if they share land tenure systems, input utilizations, management and production practices.

La Palabre'

So far so good, small catch up on the contact situation. Past December, we built ourselves a network to prepare for our upcoming events and workshops on BSF trials. With a bit of desk research, we found that most of the agriculture in urban Accra is irrigated vegetable production systems. We leaned on one of the international Water Management Institute report to pick 1) Dzorwulu 2) Roman Ridge/ Abelemkpe and 3) Roman Down (Ashaiman) for our market research. So here we are now chatting our way through the fields.

Mr. Karim and Emmanuel discussing important matter at Dzorwulu farming site
Mohammed Sadi’s irrigation system at Bisa Farmed Association Kaokudi CSIR

Market queens

The heat, the colours, the smells - people sell their fruits on the sides of every road. The warm air of tropical days brings around a varied combination of scents; from fruits, bits of food grilled over charcoal and dust, and urine and sweat. Kids cut coconuts in no time, fresh and juicy, and the mangos lying on the ground are sticky and ripe. 

Fruits & veggies at Madina Market

Market queens
I've spent quite time recently at the crowded main markets to get a general idea of the traditional trading and distribution system here, then also to speak with market sellers and to collect data for our consumer surveys.  But first, we had to speak with the market queens. Those ladies are very powerful and not to be messed around with. They constitute a strong cartel of market traders that controls the distribution network of products in the country,  and are the direct link between rural farmer producers and urban consumption. Often they are chosen by personal qualities, as well as age, emotional reliability, familiarity with market affairs, and skills in negotiation and dispute settlement. 

They didn't seem to be bothered by our presence (to say the least!) so we were able to sit down with some food and drinks to approach consumers.

Dada collection in Agbogbloshie Market 

The Madina experience

The first couple of weeks have been a rich immersion in Ghanaian customs and lifestyle; starting with learning some twi, cooking local dishes (!) and of course, taking tro-tros to local markets in the city. This was also an important part of the research, familiarizing with the environment meeting market sellers and chatting about their routine.

Mr Gunku, playing Bakita at the Craft Center

I remember meeting a merchant in Madina who was the first to teach me that people's name here correspond to the day they were born (with small variations according to their ethnic group). Because he was Akan and born on a friday, his name is Kofi. Our conversation gathered quite a curious crowd, but my attention was caught by a seemingly heated argument two ladies were having not too far from us about Dumsor - the persistent, irregular and unpredictable electric power outages that silence the city every so often. Both were outraged at this situation and its implication on Ghanaian economy, but one seemed rather hopeful that Mahamma's big new-year promise might bring a change to this country. As an Obruni foreigner, it's not always easy being integrated in the 'real-stuff' discussions, so I laid quiet to watch the scene. Then Kofi leaned over and spoke of the NDC and the NPP opposition. "Here - he says - it's always good knowing who supports what.."

Learning the strings & meeting the team

Brief introduction of the invaluable team here without whom we'd have no mini-livestock to start with!

This is Emmanuel Kwakye (corner right), he's been working at ARI for the past 13 years and has a strong background in Insect Production Systems. He knows the city&fields like the back of his hand is a passionate communicator. We'll be working together on the survey and interview part of this research.

To his left, Pierre-Olivier Maquart, our entomologist and phd student at the University of Stirling. He is in charge to scale up the project and identifies new substrates to feed the flies, tests their nutrient composition and then the maggots’ nutrient after being fed with them. Notice here in the picture the coffee coloured BSF grubs? These are the pre-pupae; and they're getting ready to turn into grown adults. At this final stage, BSF naturally crawl up the cement ramp to find a good site for pupation and ultimately drop to the other side where we can collect them. But more on that later.

Meanwhile (bottom right), I'm just playing around with dried fruits from the market. Once all of it has been broken down to pieces, we can send the samples to Stirling where they can compare the results of our field and lab trials.

Down in the middle here is Deborah Ampomah, our trained technician from ProteInsect. Her past experience was in Ashaiman on the previous experimental site and now she is our is our eyes and ears on the BSF rearing site.

And last but not least Gabriel Adu-Aboagye. He is our research scientist at CSIR-ARI and is the supervisor in charge of the Poultry feeding trials with the Black Soldier Fly.

I cannot be grateful enough for the warm welcome everyone has given me since my arrival. It wasn't long before we'd done a grand-tour of the whole neighbourhood. Now, time to get hands on the field..

Introduction of the project

Here at the Animal Research Institute (ARI), there are quite a few projects going on. Ours' focuses on two major livelihood challenges facing fast growing, urbanising Africa: enhancing food security and sanitary waste disposal. With a key research question in mind, we're trying to evaluate whether an approach to agricultural waste transformation through Black Soldier Fly (BSF) and bio-fertiliser production can promote pro-poor and particularly female employment opportunities. In this area, there's already been some research directed at the use of insect-derived feed materials in fish feeds, but we still have to develop commercial-scale insect production systems under local on-farm conditions.


Welcome to Ghana,

We're a long way from home and the journey is just beginning. This blog is meant to provide a small window onto the work we are conducting here. If you are interested in food security and insect farming, market research or perhaps even West-African culture; then I hope those brief updates will transmit the charm of this experience. But first, I must say that I am only stepping into a much larger pool here and cannot understate the efforts that have already gone into making this possible. I'm grateful that I can be here, and will look forward to bringing a small contribution to a very complex global challenge.