Our Black Soldier Fly when we discovered it in our car
After the official approval of our project at the end of April 2016, we could boost the start-up of the project. Where so far we had been busy with research and project writing, we now got funds to actually make it happen. Our endless enthusiasm to develop affordable BioBed toilets could be shared with the outside world.
On 15 May 2016, I arrived from the Netherlands in Maputo for a two weeks kick-off mission. During this period Bjorn Brandberg (LCS Promotion Int) and I met and made arrangements with a long list of people as (potential) 1. co-implementers, 2. locally contracted support, 3. members for the project´s Advisory Committee as well as 4. potential future partners from the Government institutions, 5. Netherlands Embassy, 6. UN, NGOs and 7. private sector.
Although biological sanitation needed some explanation and a different mind-set than conventional projects, all the responses were very positive and enthusiast. It was made clear that this is a research project using a technology which has been tested in a laboratory setting, but not yet in a field research setting using low-cost solutions. This makes that it will take probably 6-12 months before the first models can be tested in households. And that only when we know which models works under which conditions, technology expansion and business development models can be designed.
With this in mind, the obvious priority was to start testing…. And…. WE NEEDED BLACK SOLDIER FLY LARVAE TO START! An international expert whom we consulted beforehand told us that it would be absolutely certain that the BSF flies lived in Maputo. We showed pictures to the Insect Expert at the Mozambican Institute for Agricultural Research but he had never seen a Black Soldier Fly, also the old insect collection/museum of the institute did not have them in their collection, neither did the Natural History Museum in Maputo, a fruit farmer along the coast and all the other people we talked with. We put 15 insect traps to try to catch them and after a couple of days we started receiving reports from people we talked with earlier that they had met people who had met people who knew the Black Soldier Fly. Worth of mouth became essential and it became an exciting search for a fly which should live in Mozambique but was very unknown (to a large extend because this fly is not interested in human beings unlike the housefly or fruitfly whom everybody knows). We considered importing BSF and discussed import permission regulations with the Ministry of Agriculture. But something magical happened…. We drove our car on one of the main streets of downtown Maputo during a day with lots of rain. Suddenly a fly showed up at the wind screen of our car… a BLACK SOLDIER FLY!!! … OUR FIRST BLACK SOLDIER FLY!!! We carefully caugth the fly and had it examined to confirm it was the right one. YES!!
We know: “One swallow doesn't make a summer” but we are very determined to have the summer start soon!