Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, signed an agreement to support the pioneering project by Circa Biotech, a company that farms black soldier fly larvae by feeding them leftover food waste.
The larvae consume the waste and grow before being turned into high-protein feed for livestock, among other things.
“This agreement is part of the UAE’s ongoing drive to enhance food security and sustainability based on innovation, green development and climate change mitigation,” said Ms Al Mheiri after a tour of the company’s headquarters in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.
“The project leverages nature-based solutions to address challenges resulting from the accumulation of organic waste.
“This way, it creates sustainable economic opportunities that strengthen the resilience of our food supply chain while transforming waste from an environmental burden into an economic resource.”
Circa Biotech’s project will initially produce 1.5 tonnes of organic fertiliser per month — with the goal of handling 200 tonnes of food waste per day.
The company aims to decrease dependence on more expensive fishmeal for livestock feed.
“The world is witnessing a rise in capital funding for insect farming companies,” Ms Al Mheiri said.
“Circa Biotech’s project follows the principles of circular economy by using organic waste and the nutrients it contains as inputs into the feed production process, thus enhancing food security.”
The animal feed is rich in proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins. The larvae can be harvested every 14 days, due to the short 45-day life cycle and high fertility of the black soldier fly.
In addition, this insect does not transmit diseases, nor cause damage or infestations, and is a non-invasive species.
The larvae are reared in an environment with sensors that record real-time temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels under special lighting.
All of this together ensures efficient water consumption and has a limited effect on the environment.
“At Circa Biotech, we developed an innovative process to upcycle food waste into protein-rich animal feed using industrial insect farming,” said Haythem Riahi, co-founder and chief executive of Circa Biotech.
“It’s a commercially viable solution to locally produce animal feed with a highly sustainable process. At a full industrial scale, we plan to produce 22,000 tonnes of animal feed per year.”
Circa Biotech has participated in several entrepreneurship competitions across the UAE and its primary goal is improving the management of organic waste in megacities with a focus on saving it from the landfill.