From Overlooked Seaweeds to Animal Feed
Iriya Jona is an aquatic scientist with background knowledge of fish feed formulation and manufacturing. In 2017 after graduation, she got to be part of the Student Entrepreneurship Programme (SEP) hosted by the Ministry of higher education, training, and innovation. The training aimed at equipping fresh graduates with entrepreneurial skills, so that they can be job creators. It is from this training that she had started to focus on utilizing seaweeds.
With her business idea of utilizing kelp seaweeds for international markets, she managed to acquire funding in 2018, from Sanlam Namibia, TOTAL and NCRST (2019) to buy the small equipment he needed to process seaweeds into the first prototype. Through the training from Sanlam, she has learned about the importance of value addition, so she knew she had to add value to the seaweeds. Coincidently, it was that time when the country had started having long drought spells due to poor rainfall. Due to this drought, many farmers suffered because the cost of the feed went up. The seaweeds will be used un poultry feed and animal feed supplements.
With such a situation, she knew one had to come up with climate-resilient solutions, in the feed manufacturing industry. To her, Seaweeds were the answer. They are abundant and abandoned, so for Iriya it was important to add value and to provide affordable feed made in the country for Namibians.
“The poultry industry is just growing since everyone is starting to venture into poultry farming. It is such a pity that, although many people are starting to farm with chickens, we still import most of our feed from neighboring countries. For a young industry like the poultry industry in Namibia, it is not safe for any industry to be entirely dependent on imports.” – explains Iriya.
Namibia has harsh climatic conditions to support mass farming of maize and soya, which are the main ingredients in poultry feed. Hence, a substitute to cater to a bigger composition of the feed is needed.
“Incorporating seaweeds in feed means, we cut on the incorporation of other ingredients that we import. This will lower the price for feed in the country, farming will be done on a large scale since farmers will be able to obtain maximum profit from their production. If we can produce a lot of feed in the country, Namibia will not have to import feed from other countries anymore, hence making our country self-sustainable.” – says Iriya.
With the funding they acquired, they are busy doing the feed tests on the different breeds of chicken, with different prototypes they had made. The testing is still going on, they are in the 3rd month of testing and it is the last month.
“After this month, we will know exactly which prototype reacted well on chickens and we will focus on that exact one to produce massively for the market.” – adds Iriya.
They will not only be utilizing seaweeds collected along the coast because of the expected increase in demand but, they will be farming with the seaweeds at sea to cater to the demand. With all these operations, they expect to provide affordable feed to farmers and cut on import, educate many Namibians on sea farming operations so that they can also venture into farming with other types of seaweeds, which is not currently done in Namibia.