The new project, will begin in December to the MAR2020 operational program, under a project that intends to use insects as a source of protein in frog feed. The ESA insectary, one of the six schools of the Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo (IPVC) was created to complement another project, also applied for the MAR2020 operational program, in an investment of 740 thousand euros, in the scope of innovation in aquaculture with the involvement of techniques for new cultures”.

The project is financed 75 percent through the European Fund for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (FEAMP) and 25 percent through national contribution, of which about 50,000 will be invested in the construction and equipment of the experimental insectary. The insectary started up in the 2017/2018 school year and went into operation in February, in new facilities. The unit, which works in partnership with the Associação Portuguesa de Ranicultura, already produces beetles, two species of crickets and cockroaches.

What is about to start is the process for the production of the black soldier fly, whose larvae are very efficient in the process of composting plant residues and used as a protein source for animal feed. “The insectary, now in the new facilities, is going to be the center for the production of live food”, said the professor responsible for the project, Júlio Lopes, quoted in a note sent today to the newsroom.

The application that will be submitted in December is the result of a “study of alternative sources of protein for the development of feeds to be used in the commercial production of frogs”. The bet meets "the recommendations of the European Commission in order to reduce the dependence on the use of fishmeal in aquaculture feed". Initially, ESA's objective was to “develop a technique for the production of amphibians, namely frogs”, but now it wants to “guarantee live food”, since “these animals are not used to dry feed”. "We transferred the material to the new location, which is fully controlled at the level of climate control and there we will have greater efficiency in production", assured the professor, adding that "the next step is to produce feed for adult frogs".

According to Júlio Lopes, “there are producers, particularly in the French market, who produce frogs in captivity, being the only country in the European Union that has authorized a different species from the native one and feeds the frogs with fish feed”. “These rations contain a very large amount of fish meal and this product is considered unsustainable, because it is necessary to capture species that have no commercial value to produce the meals and feed fish that have commercial value”, explained the professor.

The ESA insectary intends to produce feed for amphibians, but without using fishmeal and, alternatively, to include insects as a source of protein in the feed. "There is a market in Europe for the legs of frogs for human consumption, but the European market imports feed from Asia and Turkey", he maintained "Since the use of insects is already regulated for use in fish feed, ESA-IPVC started an experimental unit with the objective of testing different forms of insect production by evaluating the nutritional quality and zootechnical performance of different species as well as its viability for the production of components to be incorporated in the experimental diets of the Aquaculture Research Unit”, he specified. The insectary “is still not fully functioning, due to some difficulties in completing the works”.

With about five thousand students, IPVC has six schools in Education, Technology and Management, Agrarian, Nursing, Business Sciences, Sports and Leisure, offering 28 degrees, 40 masters, 34 CTeSP and other professional training courses. In addition to the higher schools of health, education and technology and management, located in Viana do Castelo, IPVC has higher schools in Ponte de Lima (Agrária), Valença (Business Sciences) and Melgaço (Sports and Leisure).