RWANDA – Agri ThinkTank, a Rwandan firm using black soldier flies to turn food waste into animal feed, is among this year’s Wege Prize finalists, the New Times Rwanda has reported.

Now in its tenth year, Wege Prize is an international student design competition organized by Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD), that ignites game-changing solutions for the future by inspiring college and university students around the world.

The nine-month-long multiphase competition from a global field of participants represented almost 100 areas of academic study at 70 universities and colleges from an astounding 29 countries.

Agri ThinkTank was ranked among five finalists, who are expected to make their final pitches for the top prize in May, this year.

Wege Prize says it looks to advance solutions for today’s “wicked problems” such as hunger, waste, pollution, and climate change.

According to organizers, Agri ThinkTank harnesses the power of insects to convert food waste into valuable proteins.

The black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens, is a widespread fly of the family Stratiomyidae. Since the late 20th century, the insect has increasingly been gaining attention because of its usefulness for recycling organic waste and generating the animal feed

This is the essence of Agri think tank’s – black soldier flies (hermetia illucens) are used to transform discarded organic matter into high-quality protein feed for fish, poultry, and other industries

By using the remarkable nutrient-recycling capacity of the black soldier fly larvae, organic waste can be converted into high-quality protein in a very short period.

According to Agri Think Tank, the initiative is helping farmers access products that maximize agricultural production, reduce environmental contamination, and improve living standards.

Developed products are accessed and sold through an app, which identifies when waste is available to collect and connects users to the resulting compost and feed products.

What makes it particularly smart is the residual material from the conversion process is a high-quality compost that can be used to regenerate soils

Through an immersive process transcending fields of study, cultures, and institutional boundaries, Wege Prize teams are inspired to reframe normal ways of producing and consuming.

The teams engage in intensive research, testing, networking, and prototyping, with direct feedback from the competition’s panel of expert judges.

Gayle DeBruyn, KCAD professor and Wege Prize organizer unveiled that by engaging research, the teams create new products, services, business models, and solutions cutting through systemic issues, while also helping power a transition to a regenerative, circular economy.

Last year, Green Promoters, a team of five young Rwandan innovators won the Wege Prize and scooped a US$30,000 cash prize.

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