Feed protein for farm animals such as pigs and poultry heavily depends on soil-based grains and ocean-derived fish meal. Over-reliance on and the declining availability of these two ingredients in the feed mix have caused price hikes for animal feeds by up to 70%. This means that local smallholder farmers can not sustainably feed their animals and many are struggling with others being pushed out of business.
Our core business at ProSect Feed is to produce insect-based animal feeds for poultry, fish and pigs. Our protein feeds have up to 58% crude protein nutrients and are cheaper than what is available in the Ghanaian market. Our business is founded on the belief that we can subsidize animal feed costs for farmers with nutritious and more affordable feed. We work with smallholder farmers in Ghana to provide them with nutritious and cost-efficient alternative sources of animal feed thereby decreasing their production cost and yet not compromising on quality.
Our insect-based protein feed provides a cheaper, locally produced option which is high in crude protein. This allows smallholder farmers to make higher profits and gives them a competitive advantage. Ghana spends over $200 million annually importing poultry products that are also produced locally. Due to Economies of scale, the high production cost of local produce and the low cost of imports make importing the foreign produce more preferable. Imagine what it could mean for the local farmers, the poultry industry and even the economy if even a quarter of that amount spent could be captured by the local producers instead?
Genesis of ProSect Feed
“ProSect Feed was founded in 2019 when my cofounders and I met during the Kosmos Innovation Center Agritech challenge competition. We agreed to jointly start a business; a logistics platform selling fresh meat online. We embarked on market research to learn more about this new field. Along the way, the ProSect Feed journey began,” says Nana Yaw, Co-Founder, ProSect Feed. From the research, we found that animal feed was costly and accounted for about 80% of the farmers production costs. We figured that a price reduction of feeds would lead to low buying price for meat, giving our business a competitive advantage. Therefore, we looked for cheaper feed alternatives and realized that insects are the future of animal feed. They provide a sustainable source of protein nutrients for animals. Depending on the insect, the lifecycle can be very short, meaning you can produce a lot in a short period.
The past 2-3 years have been very tough economically due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia war. For farmers, the situation has been no different, if not even harder, the skyrocketing prices have pushed them to the edge and many are struggling to survive. Therefore, we engaged them in capacity-building on financial management, marketing, health and safety and animal feed nutrition. We trained them on how to commercialize farming, to view it as a business rather than just a way of farming. During this training, we launched the waste-for-cash program through which farmers generate more income from us through sale of farm waste. This program has mostly benefited women farmers who are breadwinners in their families.
The Generation Africa Fellowship Program
We joined the Generation Africa Fellowship Program months after the GoGettaz challenge. Through this program, I interacted with industry experts who opened my eyes to the real challenges of ProSect Feed; funding. From the conversations with the mentor, we realized that we needed a financial policy that would help us structure the business properly and guarantee us investor confidence. A lot of work went into developing our company’s financial policy which we have begun implementing. Our mentor, Mr John Njane was patient with us, because ProSect Feed is unique; he listened to our needs.
We have also begun constructing the company’s commercial production site and kick started production. Our current facility can produce close to 10-14 tonnes of organic fertilizer every month as well as 2-3 tonnes of poultry and fish protein feed. We have also employed 6 full-time staff and rely on technical backstops from some of our experts, so that makes 10 employees.
What Next for ProSect Feed?
Our vision is to become one of the largest animal feed manufacturers and organic fertilizer producers in West Africa in the next 5-10 years. The sharp increase in animal feed costs and the challenges regarding organic fertilizer availability in Africa give us a strong business case and exhibit how our products fit the growing market needs. We believe strongly in our products and their impact on industry, farmers, families, environment and the socio-economic situation in our country. We are looking to form strategic partnerships with organizations and individuals and to tap into more fundraising opportunities to upscale more to service our markets.
Interviewed by Odhiambo Obonyo