Solution Overview

Solution Name:

Urban insect farming for safer seaside

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One-line solution summary:

Apply modern farming solutions to valorise waste and produce clean food in an urban seaside setting

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Pitch your solution.

With over 3 million inhabitants, a thriving middle class and vast income disparities, Dakar is exhausting its marine resources and producing organic waste at a much faster rate than it can be naturally recycled.   We are proposing to develop modular insect production systems that can process up to 500kg of food waste daily in the close vicinity of the urban consumers center. 

Our initiative is based on a combination of techniques locally available and will produce highest grade organic fertiliser and up to 50kg daily of fish and poultry feed. It involves the production of flies and coleopterae larvaes in refused steel containers that we will adapt for the purpose, large lombrics pits and sheds for poultry, for transformation/packaging, and a large fish pool that will also be used in an aquaponic system. 

This system is modular, and can be replicated at low cost on 200sq.m (or on 1ha with the fish pond).





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What specific problem are you solving?

Our project will address the issue of organic waste in thriving businesses, Dakar, Senegal. The impact of organic waste is such that it has been identified by Senegal as a priority for Senegal's contribution to the Paris Agreement.

A large catering businesses that provide over 25,000 school meals daily and restaurants that provide over 5,000 meals daily produce a total of over 600kg of sorted, high quality food waste. These businesses do not have a reliable process to demonstrate that they comply with regulations and with social and environmental responsibility standards for the whole chain of food waste disposal.

Therefore, today, a small part of this waste is discarded or sold for negligible amounts to local businesses or individuals, to unknown outcome. Some of it is disposed of on the seashore directly besides the restaurants. 

Due to the difficulties in doing business in general in Africa and the low social acceptability of valorising food waste in a high standard value chain, our partners struggle to outsource this process to professional services and meet their Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) requirements while the degradation of the natural and human environment quickens. 

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What is your solution?

Pulling together existing solutions from modern agroecology and organic farming in Senegal in a dedicated facility, with a controlled and optimised value chain, we propose to develop a scalable and modular system that can valorise approximately 60 tons yearly of high quality, sorted food waste by producing fish and poultry feed and organic compost to be used in a modular aquaponics farm. The system will produce food, organic feed, high grade fertiliser, lombricompost and employ up to 15 people.

The waste, contained on premises of production, is transported to the process site to undergo in 3 separate treatments:

  • 1-Fresh, uncontaminated food will feed free ranging poultry
  • 2-The bulk will be processed by fly and coleoptera to produce a maximum 30kg of fish and poultry feed daily
  • 3-The remnant will be stored in heaps to produce earthworm compost  

Additionnaly, a fish pond can be added. The fish feed (2) will feed 2 large tanks containing each 7,500 fish, producing 15,000 x 500g of commercial food yearly. The water from the fish tank circulates into hydroponic systems and will finally irrigate an organic field, both solutions providing vegetables.

The final productions, fish and vegetables will be sold on the local markets by the employees. The fish feed and compost in excess will be sold to a network of organic farmers and aquaponics farms. 

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

There are 3 categories of beneficiaries. 

First, the catering business owners will have a reliable process to adress their solid organic waste. It will help them meet their HSE requirements and secure loans from banks to upscale their activities or be more resilient in times of hardship, thus securing employment for local workers. The businesses will also benefit from the project in terms of internal communication, increased staff engagement, increased visibility for their customers.

Second, the communities managing the process site will make 3 types of profits : a- direct jobs provided by the business venture, employing and training local workers. b- the community will benefit from increased access to cheap food, locally produced. A food source that is safe and healty, without pesticides and that doesn't degrade their environment. c- Indirect benefits from the jobs and the know-how that will be developed locally include the dissemination of the practices dsiplayed on the pilot farm and increase economic dynamics from the jobs and the food produced. 

Third and last, the urban community, will benefit from a relief from the pressure of food waste pollution and from better quality food.

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Create scalable economic opportunities for local communities, including fishing, timber, tourism, and regenerative agriculture, that are aligned with thriving and biodiverse ecosystems
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Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

Our initiative contributes to preserving the natural environment on the Cap-Vert peninsula, the western most point on continental Africa and until recently a thriving costal and mangrove ecosystem, by reducing the pollution pressure that results from human activity. 

It will also create a scalable economic opportunity based on sustainaible fisheries and regenerative, agroecological farming. 

Finally, our system also contribute to health security through short food supply chains and increased community resilience (as recognised by the FAO, although not mentionned in the Challenge outline).

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Dakar, Senegal
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Pilot: An organization deploying a tested product, service, or business model in at least one community.
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Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

This project will work in a partnership around a community who is already developing small scale agroecologic solutions, but without analysis of value-chain and without plan for upscaling. 
As a joint project, we are bringing togerther resources and know-how from several experienced partners into a single coherent solution that does not exist today. 

The functional parts of the proposed system can be replicated modularly. The farm is purposefully designed to be replicated, it can also function at a small scale or be added to an existing farming site to process organic waste efficiently. 
It is not a prototype, because such farms already exist elsewhere, and all the components (insect based food waste processing, aquaponics, hydroponics, organic farming) are already common in Senegal. 
We will be in a growth phase after two years. Once we've trained several community members, on whom we can rely to disseminate the model, once the governance system for the farm is stable and we have mastered the logistics involved, then we will replicate the system through the Organic Farming Association in Senegal (FENAB).

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Sébastien REGNAUT

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More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful
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What makes your solution innovative?

This new and improved solution addresses both a business governance and a technical challenge. 
First, the project is a joint initiative that includes catering businesses, restaurants, entrepreneurs and local community members. It provides a new solution to long lasting, unsolved problems faced by all the members of the partnership. By pulling ressources, labour, food waste, logistics, know-how, access to market, all partners add value to their own activities. This collaboration ensures durability. 

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Biotechnology / Bioengineering
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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Women & Girls
  • Peri-Urban
  • Urban
  • Low-Income
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Senegal
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 2. Zero Hunger
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Gambia, The
  • Ghana
  • Senegal
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

3 people are currently active on this initiative. 

In one year, with our pilot modules running and integrated to a food system, we expect to employ 15 people (part time and full time). 

In 5 years, if we manage to move the initiative into growth phase, several hundreds could be employed.

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

The structure of the operations of waste processing is a systematic system. It requires quantifying waste inputs and commercial outputs at all time to ensure smooth operations. Therefore, our progress towards our first impact will be measured by : 

Amount of waste processed. We expect to produce 12 tons of urban food waste yearly per operational module.
Amount of food and fertiliser produced. We expect to produce 1 ton of animal feed. We will establish the target for food products once the module is operational. 

On our second impact, we will be measuring the amount of salaries paid to local community members and food sold on local market. 

Finally, accounting metrics will be used to demonstrate that our initiative is a profitable business after the second year of operation. 

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About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

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How many people work on your solution team?

In the present development phase, 3 people are working on the solution. 

Once we start implementing, we will hire 5 contractants to prepare the 3 deconmissioned containers, and progressively 5 to 10 farm hands and technicians (part time and full time) that we will train on the techniques. We will also employ 1 driver and 1 accountant (part time).

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How long have you been working on your solution?

less than 1 year.

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Our partnership is made of one environmental and food expert with over 15 years experience in the region with management of natural resources and agroecology. One is a business school graduate with his own business of import and retail in Dakar. The third is a senegalese entrepreneur and land owner. All three have experience with hydroponic and farming systems. 

We are also partnering with two large catering businesses in Dakar serving together over 25,000 meals a day and producing over 600 kg of food waste. 

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What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?

Our solution will be established as a "GIE" - Groupment of economic intrest. It is a legal status in Senegal for small joint ventures. Shares of the GIE will be distributed in equitable amounts amongst the partners and the catering businesses, pro-rata of their investment and involment. The GIE ownership will progressively include employees coming from the local communities who are also employed on the site. 

The module system is also a module legal system. Each new system can be replicated and a new GIe established to manage it.

We will ensure that women are involved in majority in the skillful tasks that require training.

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Your Business Model & Partnerships

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Organizations (B2B)
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Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to Solve?

We think the MIT Solution challenge could be interested in this interesting composite model of high-controled farming system working with matters of low social acceptability, such as waste and insects. On top of the financial support, we will appreciate to join this community of thriving ideas that can be added to our model, in particular, remote solutions of monitoring production, block-chain supply-chain transparency or even new processes. 

We think the high tech provides a lot of insights and directions, and when it comes to applications in real life systems for food, with people earning a living, with fragile organisms, these high-tech solutions need to be remodelled, deconstructed and reconstructed to fit the actual need, and not try to create a need around a new technology that does not necessarily have applications. 
This is why, with the mix of food systems, insect farming, inclusive governance that we are proposing, we think we can make a better pilot and go into a better growth phase with MIT Solve. 

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Legal or Regulatory Matters
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. expanding client base)
  • Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design, data analysis, etc.)
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Please explain in more detail here.

Our mix system is designed to be flexible and resilient. However, it is a tightly controled environment, with quantitative data and metrics that make the system fragile. 

We think we can obtain help in running our modules, sell better and find more efficient financial make up to prepare our growth phase. 

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Solution Team

 
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