Harnessing sustainable development opportunities from oil palm waste: black soldier fly larvae as a novel income stream in Malaysia


Palm oil industries in Malaysia have a major waste disposal problem. Lots of biomass residues are produced by the palm oil industry from its milling and plantation activities, including empty fruit bunches (EFBs), which constitute 52% of solid waste from palm oil mills. Most of the EFBs are either used for composting (which takes a long time given all the woody fibres in the EFBs) or are returned directly to the plantation as mulch (though this can cause problems for the soil as the EFB mulch can take out more nutrients than it puts in). Another use of EFBs is to make pellets – a solid form of biofuel. Although the possible uses for EFBs could reduce the amount of waste, a large amount of unutilised EFBs remain. This project explores an alternative use of EFBs: conversion into a feedstock for Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) which in turn can be used to feed fish. BSFL have the potential to ingest a range of organic wastes such as animal manure, municipal organic waste, food waste and crop straw, having an egg to fly life cycle of around 38 days. BSFL have also received a lot of attention because of their high levels of protein and lipids. The larvae contain a good balance of essential fatty acids and amino acids and are not disease vectors. This means they pose little environmental risk, and offer an exciting, novel approach to overcoming an urgent waste challenge.

Aims and Objectives

Taking an interdisciplinary approach and using a mix of biological and social research methods, we are looking into how oil palm waste can be converted into BSFL based fish and animal feed, identifying opportunities for income generation in the process, in the context of Malaysia. We are using a mixture of solid-state fermentation studies, stakeholder engagement and policy analysis to: - Optimise the conditions for solid state biodegradation of oil palm residues by microbes to produce feed for BSFL in an industrial setting - Build capacity and capability for biomass processing, including an assessment of the economic feasibility of up-scaling - Determine the optimal diet for the mass rearing of BSFL on degraded crop residues - Employ innovative mechanisms to engage stakeholders, build capacity, share knowledge and inform policy change.

Related links

To find out more visit the project website.

Prof Neil Bruce, Department of Biology and Director of CNAP

York Principal Investigator

Professor Neil Bruce, Biology

York Co-Investigator

Professor Lindsay Stringer, Environment and Geography

Malaysia Principal Investigator

Dr Chun Shiong Chong, Biosciences, UTM

Malaysia Co-Investigators

Associate Professor Madihah binti Md Salleh,UTM

Associate Professor Goh Kian Mau,UTM

Dr Adibah binti Yahya,UTM

Dr Lam Ming Quan,UTM

Dr Sharvini Siva Raman,UTM

Dr Liew Kok Jun, UTM

Newton Fund Impact Scheme via BBSRC and MIGHT (Malaysian Industry Government Group for High Technology)

Related links

To find out more visit the project website.