Flemish agriculture is struggling with a nutrient surplus that is causing environmental problems. The processing of these nutrients is a cost for the farmer, while these nutrients actually still have a value as a food source for biomass production.
Previous studies have already shown that duckweed, a free-floating aquatic plant, can grow on residual flows. Thus, duckweed has the potential to purify agricultural waste streams while producing proteins for the feed and food industry. Moreover, the local production of alternative proteins is very interesting because this important food source for humans and animals is currently still often imported from areas where tropical rainforest has to make way for crop production.
With this project, Inagro aims to create a value chain for duckweed so that a market can open for this circular product. Our focus is on processing duckweed into a stable marketable product in the food and feed industry. For this, we want to validate the technical and economic parameters on a relevant scale and focus on chain implementation in the sectors involved.
Partners Katholieke Hogeschool VIVES ZUID VZW, Ugent, Ivaco CVBA
The pilot cultivation set-up remains in place and can still be useful for future initiatives. The reports of this project are also available digitally and can be consulted on request at Inagro vzw.
As a follow-up to this project, an LA project (VLAIO) was approved, with Flanders Food as the main applicant. The project, named LemnaPro, involves 18 companies, of which 10 are farmers. The focus of that project is on scaling up cultivation and determining the profitability in different cases, including food production in controlled conditions.
In addition, the Novel Food application for fresh duckweed will be evaluated in 2021. If duckweed is permitted as a 'novel food', this will open many new doors.
Our profitability analysis already has promising results and hopefully this can encourage farmers to invest. After all, this local value chain can reduce our protein imports and stimulate the reuse of nutrients from manure.