Upcycling post-harvest fish waste into animal protein

Faith Mwende

 Faith Mwende with some of the animal feed produced by Sea Ventures.

Photo credit: Margaret Maina | Nation Media GRoup

Faith Mwende’s path to sustainable feed production started with studies in Fisheries and Marine Biology. She became aware of the substantial waste produced during fish processing while working as an environmental consulting associate.

In 2022, Mwende founded Sea Ventures, a company that makes feeds branded as Zuri.

She does that by up-cycling post-harvest fish scraps into protein for feed. Sea Ventures formulates complete feed for aquaculture, poultry, pigs and pets.

“Witnessing how post-harvest losses and discarded remains affected the environment inspired me to be creative in recycling and keeping resources from going to waste,” Mwende says.

“There is a lot of post-harvest loss in the Blue Economy, especially the fish value chain.”

Mwende says the scarcity of animal feed also motivated her to start the company.

“It has been a long journey. We have not yet satisfied the needs of farmers as demand keeps rising,” she says.

Faith Mwende

 Faith Mwende with some of the animal feed produced by Sea Ventures.

Photo credit: Margaret Maina | Nation Media GRoup

Mwende’s initial project involved creating a liquid protein supplement for animal feed made from fish waste. Turning fish scraps into a consumable product, however, was challenging. The company was founded in January 2023, but the idea was initiated the previous year.

“After months of prototyping and refining, we got a breakthrough. That solidified our commitment to repurposing fish waste,” she says.

Fish waste is inherently very perishable, so Sea Ventures gathers and preserves it before turning it into feed.

Fisherman and fish processors are the company’s main suppliers of raw material. Sea Ventures also gets supplies from Beach Management Units (BMUs) and fish vendors.

“The waste is taken to our processor in Mombasa. Depending on the kind of waste, we crush, mix and formulate. We then palletise the product, after which it is packaged, stored and taken to the market,” she says.

The company gets one to three tonnes of fish waste a week.

“We want to grow. We adhere to Kenya Bureau of Standards guidelines and use standardised formulation to guarantee the nutritional value and quality of the feed,” she says.

The first step in quality assurance is checking the waste for potentially dangerous substances like microbes.

“We perform analyses. Our formulations satisfy the unique requirements for every kind of animal,” she says.

Demand is high, particularly for fish and poultry feeds. Orders for aquarium fish are rising too.

Meeting the high demand for tilapia feed is the top priority for Sea Ventures.

“Coastal farmers near creeks are placing orders for prawns. We are in the last stages of testing and refining before releasing our pet meals to the market,” Mwende says.

“Our monthly production is about six tonnes, with three tonnes being fish and a tonne of chicken feed.”

She says Sea Ventures conducts tests during and after processing at reputable institutions like Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation and the Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute.

Sea Ventures has had several challenges, including the rapid spoilage of fish waste. Lack of proper storage and drying kits exacerbates the problem.

Lack of processing technology and its high cost are also an obstacle.

“Our feeds are in demand but we cannot meet it because of shortage of equipment,” she says.

Sea Ventures recently acquired kits that can make 500 kilos of feed per hour. It has five permanent and five casual workers.

The firm works with organisations like Sote Hub for market linkages and training, Kenya Red Cross for women’s social entrepreneurship training and grant support, and Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC) for support in acquiring advanced machinery.

Community involvement goes beyond fish waste – as Sea Ventures also works with women in the collection and purchase of coconut husks.