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Black Soldier Flies Production in the Philippines: A Sustainable Answer For The Country's Biodegradable Waste

Last year, I vowed to visit more farms instead of beaches. That's why when an invite came to see a farm that's only 2 hours away from Manila, I said yes in an instant. Unlike other visits to previous farms, this time it is way, way different because I learned a very innovative solution to the worsening problem of biodegradable waste we produce through a forum attended by the local media of Batangas, officials from concerned government agencies in Batangas, and fellow bloggers.

Held in Kahariam Farm in Batangas, its owner is the one who spearheads the production of Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens), a very endemic type of fly that no one in the country has used its potentials for whatever good purpose in a large scale previously.  Honestly, I only know the common fly we see everywhere which we call the "langaw". There's also the bigger one called "bangaw" then the "fruitfly". Who would have thought that the answer to one of the country's top problems can be found within our backyard?

black soldier flies research philippines

Mr. Manuel Bagatsing, owner of Kahariam Farms and Resorts Inc. (KFRI) shared to the crowd the humble beginnings of his 23-hectare farm. His passion for farming and goal to eat organic food pushed him to manufacture products that  pesticide-free vegetables/fruits and organic livestock animals. In fact, they have mastered vermicomposting since 2007 using earthworms. The farm's bread and butter today is vermicast, the most organic and safest fertilizer made of 95% earthworm casting in the Philippines. Certified by the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines, the country's top authority for organic products, it is not a surprise they are the leading supplier of vermicast in the Philippines.

black soldier flies in the philippines

He is not just an entrepreneur - he's also a visionary. His business can enjoy the privilege of being the top distributor of vermicast and its big earnings but he knew there's a need for an effective system to manage household, municipal, and market wastes.   In one of his trips to Singapore, he learned of how our Southeast Asian country neighbor uses this type of fly for the same concern. 

When he came back, he did research and found Black Soldier Flies (BSF) inside his farm and nearby. We were given a tour to the part of the farm where they breed these types of flies. They showed us the many areas dedicated to the production of BSF's. See below:

Breeding area
Area may be open or enclosed where production of larvae is done. It is an area where the food (biodegradable wastes) of the larvae are spread on the cemented floor, eggs are inoculated, and allowed to hatch. The hatched larvae will leave the food and will find a suitable area (dark) to pupate. A separator canal will allow the larvae climb and amass at the bottom. This will ease the collection of prepupae.

Dark cage
Enclosed area where the prepupae are placed and allowed 5-7 days to transform into pupae and additional 2-3 weeks to emerge as adult black soldier files. The condition inside the dark cage should be moist and temperature is cooler to avoid deydradtion of prepupae and pupae. The dark cage has a window where adult flies can exit since they are attracted to light. The window will lead them to the Fly Mating cage. 

black soldier fly composting in philippines

Fly mating cage 
An screened area where adult flies can freely fly around and find their mating pairs. The area should be well lighted since it favors fly mating, thereby enhancing egg production. The temperature should  be maintained at 27 degrees celsius, thus keeping of most live plants is helpful. Adults normally mate in broad day light so lightings are provided at nighttime. Within 9 days, the adults will lay their eggs near their source of food. Egg traps are provided in those spots. It will be extracted from the traps and placed in the Breeeding area.

Solar drying area
An screened area with plastic roofing that will allow solar heat to penetrate. The larva are spread on metal sheets for rapid removal of moisture. The sides are lined with screen mesh cloth to protect the larvae from other insects, birds, and lizards. This will allow the free flow of hot air which has desiccating effects.

BSF farming in the philippines

Feeding R&D area
An enclosed area where the animals are fed with black soldier fly larvaes at different rats, in combination or stand alone. Objective is to determine whether black soldier larvae can replace a significant amoutn of commercial feeds for different domesticated animals. This will also consider the economic gains when a substantial amount of commercial feeds is substituted without sacrificing the quality and weight gain of the animals. As of the moment, feeding trials on chicken and hogs are conducted and it shows promising results.

Larvae production area
An area where different feeding experiments using various food combinations are conducted. The treatments are designed to determine the best food combinations for maximum larval growth in terms of size and weight in the shortest time possible. The test foods include market wastes, azolla, soybean wastes, coconut wastes, manures, etc. The parameters being measured are the sizes of larvae and days to reach prepupal stage. The results will provide which food combinations will be used in larval production.

black soldier flies in the philippines

These water ferns are some of the fastest growing plants on the planet because they have a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria. Their rapid growth makes it a potentially good livestock feed and green fertilizer. To convert them into valuable fertilizers, the technology on black soldier fly larvae is an excellent method. This would benefit the production of BSF larvae since the fern is a good source of plant proteins, essential amino acids, vitamns, growth promote intermediaries, and minerals.

black soldier fly workshop seminar philippines
MOU Signing on BSF Technology partnership with ATI-ITCHPH & Kahariam Farms
Two Big Potentials of Black Soldier Flies
The kinds of livestock feeds you'll see in the market currently are mostly made of soybean and/or GMO protein that are not the best option for livestock animals if you want them to be organic and/or pesticide free. To give you an idea, a pack of  dried larvae of black soldier fly sold by Kahariam Farms weighing 200 grams has crude protein (38%), crude fat (29%), and crude fiber (14%).  BSF dried larvaes are the most nutritious food for koi fishes, roosters used for cockfighting, parrots, and a lot more.

Mr. Bagatsing said they collect 500 tons of (decaying) biodegradable waste which they feed to black soldier flies. He said they will need more in the near future once their production becomes mainstream. THEY EAT THE MOST DISGUSTING AND EVEN CONTAMINATED BIODEGRADABLE WASTE INCLUDING HUMAN CADAVER. Mr. Bagatsing also admitted that they are no experts and they are still learning everything when it comes to the production of black soldier flies in the Philippines. They will open their doors to more production of BSF's outside their farms through offering workshops and talks. They are also willing to partner with individuals or agencies that can add more knowledge to about BSF's. 

An accredited agri-tourism site by the Department of Tourism, Kahariam Farm in Batangas offers organic farming workshops (organic vermicast, veggies, and recent addition is Black Soldier Flies). Kahariam Farm is an extension service provider for Organic Agriculture Trainings, accredited by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Kahariam Farms website

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Kahariam Farms address: Brgy. Adya, Lipa-Ibaan Road
4217 Lipa, Batangas

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