From Food Waste to Opportunity


Last year in October, Geoffrey Ssepuuya, a Senior Lecturer at Uganda Christian University (UCU), was awarded a grant worth USD 63,750 by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST). The grant aimed at piloting the production of low-cost protein and micronutrient-rich cricket feed from food waste in Kampala, Uganda.

The project is to run for 18 months and was officially launched to start pilot small scale industrial-scale production on Friday, April 26th 2024.

“The first phase gave us knowledge now the second phase is the real marketing, going from laboratory to market,” said Florence Agwang, the grants officer at UNCST.

About the project

Sub-Saharan Africa, including Uganda, experiences rapid urbanization characterized by a booming young population, and a significant amount of food waste. In Uganda, food waste makes up 65-79% of solid waste in landfills causing environmental and health problems. Yet, this waste contains nutrients that could be utilized. In response to this, the UCU Faculty of Agricultural Sciences launched two exciting projects: “Food Waste-to-Cricket Feed II” and “Food Waste-to-Piggery Feed.”

Led by Dr. Geoffrey Ssepuuya, the project aims to transform food waste into a valuable protein source. It also solves the problem of food waste, promotes a circular economy, and addresses several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Dr. Geoffrey Ssepuuya addressing the attendees during the launch of food waste to Cricket feed II.

The success of the project lies in sustainable production, a mechanism of food waste collection from households, and attaining equipments to process food waste to feed.

Multiple Benefits

The project offers a multitude of benefits, including:

  • Increased Food Production: Cricket feed, in particular, is a protein-rich source of nutrients, which can contribute to improved dietary intake. Crickets can be dried and ground to be mixed with staple flours for porridge and food.

“Instead of consuming cassava bread that is only about 2% protein or even less, communities can supplement it with crickets, which are 50–60% rich in proteins,” Ssepuuya says. “So, with the feeds now available, they can rear the crickets, dry them under the sun, grind them into powder, and add the protein-rich powder to their food.”

The most common sources of proteins, such as meat, milk, and chicken, are not affordable to many Ugandans, yet they can now be redeemed by eating crickets.

  • Reduced Waste: The UCU agriculture research team, led by Geoffrey Ssepuuya, a senior lecturer, established that there is a daily production of 768 metric tons of food waste in Kampala. By converting food waste into animal feed, the project reduces the amount of organic waste clogging landfills, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions and health risks. Reduced food waste disposal in landfills mitigates environmental hazards and associated health risks. Through these projects, UCU aims to alleviate the burden of disease linked to poor waste management practices, thereby fostering healthier communities.

The project creates nutritious animal feed from food waste, contributing to a more sustainable food system and potentially lowering food prices.

  • Job Creation: The project has the potential to create decent employment opportunities, particularly for Uganda’s young population, in areas like food waste collection, feed production, and animal rearing.
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Members who attended the launch of food waste to cricket feed II at UCU’s principal hall.

Project Goals

The project team is working towards realizing several key goals:

  • The project now aims to move from laboratory-scale production to small-scale industrial production, making it commercially viable and scalable.
  • To establish a private small-scale food waste processing facility and contribute to increased farmer participation in cricket rearing.
  • Having three manuscripts published and one policy brief developed and disseminated.
  • Establishing a pilot program for sorted food waste collection.
  • Researching optimal feed formulations for pigs, the most commonly reared livestock in Mukono district.
  • Explore the nutritional benefits of food waste-derived feeds for livestock, particularly pigs.
  • Evaluating the performance of these feeds on pig growth in both lab and field settings.
  • Determining the cost-effectiveness of pig production using food waste-based feed.
  • Enhancing the packaging, marketing, and distribution of certified cricket feed.

Project Success and Future

The “Food Waste-to-Cricket Feed II” project builds on previous research led by Dr. Ssepuuya that demonstrated the safety, affordability, and high protein content of cricket feed made from food waste.

Impact on SDGs

Vincent Kisenyi, UCU Director of Academic Affairs, noted that this project aligns with SDGs 3 (good health and well-being), 4 (quality education), and 12 (responsible consumption and production). It promotes health by reducing waste and malnutrition, fosters education through research, and contributes to a cleaner environment by effectively managing waste.

He emphasizes the importance of waste management in safeguarding public health and creating economic opportunities for communities.

“Waste management is one of the big challenges we face as a country, and if this garbage is not well attended to, it can cause a lot of health problems,” Kisenyi said. “This project is relevant because it involves making use of what would have been wasted.”

The project not only tackles environmental and social challenges but also presents a significant economic opportunity.

As Dr. Ssepuuya, the project lead, stated, “Just as people collect coffee seeds to make coffee, why is it hard to collect food waste, make feed from it, use the feed to raise crickets and have cheap protein?”

Joshua Saloongo, a piggery farmer, has appreciated UCU for this initiative.

“We have been importing feeds for our pigs, however, this project is going to help us get these feeds locally made by the help of UCU,” Saloongo said.

These projects, funded by the African Centre for Technology Studies and UCU, hold potential for Uganda’s future and serve as a model for other African countries facing similar challenges.

Compiled by Irene Best Nyapendi

Edited By: Harriet Adong, Consultant at UCU’s Communication and Public Relations Department