Managing organic matter across agricultural and livestock value chains in the Ecuadorian Andes represents an opportunity for circular agricultural production initiatives. In Ecuador, 5,297,211 tons of waste are generated annually (Kaza et al., 2018). Monthly, 380,135 tons are collected in 220 cantons (INEC, 2019b), with 57 percent being organic waste. Markets are the main source, and only 32 percent of municipalities use organic solid waste (INEC, 2019a).
Organic solid waste is the largest fraction of municipal solid waste in landfills, leading to leaching, greenhouse gas emissions, and reduction of landfills’ useful life (Pichtel, 2014). The most common treatments in Ecuador are anaerobic and aerobic digestion, the latter being composting, or degradation of organic matter by microorganisms.
Home composting has 77 percent waste transformation efficiency, reducing emissions by 40 percent versus landfills (Vázquez & Soto, 2017). Using the black soldier fly (BSF) Hermetia illucens (L) (Diptera order, Stratiomyidae family) is an attractive option because, during composting, larvae emissions are lower than microbial, it has 50 percent process efficiency, and it provides a protein source for animals (Mertenat et al., 2019).
Conventionally composting market vegetable waste takes more time (Murugesan & Amarnath, 2020). Applying biological accelerators (animal organic matter or effective microorganisms) is required; however, not all animal matter is easily stabilized (Dueñas & Jara, 2020). BSF larvae easily consume this type of product.
No literature has been identified regarding BSF breeding in the highlands. Private sector research in Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru is conducted in lower altitudes and related to industrialized farming such as shrimp farms.
Identify social, economic, and environmental settings around organic waste management on farms and markets in two rural communities in Cañar and Chimborazo in order to determine the viability of BSF farming as a scalable short-term income source in the Ecuadorian highlands.
Outputs and Outcomes:
Agricultural systems characterized, including realities, environments, ancestral knowledge, and good practices of the Kichwa Puruhá peoples in Chimborazo and Kichwa Cañari in Cañar
Strategic plan designed with research methods to interview rural farmers (men, women, youth) and other market stakeholders to learn their current realities, difficulties, and opportunities regarding waste management in their communities and production cycles
Viable scenarios identified of action replication and adaptation of techniques for local production in the highlands through theoretical, participatory, qualitative, and experimental research; local users’ acceptance and potential uses of insect protein/derivatives
One BSF breeding station prototype designed and implemented in Santa Catalina Research Station; if successful, could be the first with BSF at high altitude
Official evidence generated for national authorities immersed in agricultural policy development and other decision-makers at national scale; participants involved in collective feedback to share research results
Social and productive diagnosis of different production systems of associated farmers in the two provinces
Brood model of black soldier fly
Two modules for rearing of black soldier flies installed in the communities
Animal production model based on intake of black soldier fly
Animal production trials installed in each community
Results documented of tests carried out within each production system
Farmers from associations, technicians, and authorities all trained in advantages of circular agricultural production
Laboratory analysis methodologies validated
Economic study documented
Environmental impact study documented
Social study of project development documented
Scientific publications and dissemination techniques developed