The common house fly, Musca Domestica. Firm hopes its maggot hatcheries will disrupt the global animal feed business (USDAgov/Wikimedia Commons)

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What’s the buzz? World’s largest fly farm is landing in Cape Town

10 July 2014 | By Rod Sweet | 1 Comment

Flies, with their cargo of germs and foulness, are normally things you swat or shoo disgustedly out of the room, but a new venture in South Africa aims to produce them by the billions.

Near Cape Town, the world’s largest “fly farm” will harvest maggots from about 8.5 billion of the insects housed in giant cages. The 8,500 sq m facility is now under construction, and the project developers say it could redefine the global animal-feed market.

The brainchild of Gibraltar-based company AgriProtein, the maggot hatchery aims to produce 23.5 metric tons of insect-based protein meal and oils and 50 tons of fertilizer per day when it is due to be completed next year, Bloomberg reports. 

It is apparently creating quite a buzz: fish and chicken farmers have already signed contracts to buy the feed, an alternative to soy and fishmeal, Jason Drew, the company’s co-founder, told Bloomberg.

Drew said the farm will take in 110 tons of out-of date-food, scraps from restaurants, hotels, some animal manure and some abattoir waste, and get those flies reproducing.

“We copied the idea from Mother Nature,” Drew said. “In 15 years, it will be as normal to recycle your waste nutrients as it is to recycle your tin, your glass or your plastic today.”

Bloomberg reports that Sydney-based Twynam Agricultural Group is among the project’s backers who have provided $11 million of funding. AgriProtein wants to build another 38 fly farms and says it has had expressions of interest from 43 countries.

The company aims to disrupt the global animal feed industry. “We aim to undercut the cost of fishmeal by about 15 percent,” Drew said.

AgriProtein’s products have been approved for sale in South Africa and Drew expects it to secure distribution licenses in the European Union within the next two years. Product approval is being considered on a state-by-state basis in the U.S. and Canada, with Ohio already having granted permission for them to be sold, he said.

The meal, branded as MagMeal, has a “dark rich texture with a slightly nutty flavor,” AgriProtein said on its website.