Research into producing cheaper animal feed

Prof Wahid (second, left) signing the plaque with Piggott (second, right), at the launch. With them are UTM deputy vice-chancellor Ahmad Fauzi Ismail (left) and Nutrition Technologies Sdn Bhd chief operations officer Thomas Berry.

ISKANDAR PUTERI: Livestock farmers say that one of their biggest expenses is the cost of the feed. If that can be reduced, the price of animal products – be it eggs, fish or meat – should also drop.

To work towards this, a local university and a biotech company have teamed up to launch a laboratory for the research into cost-efficient and quality feed.

This was highlighted in the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Nutrition Technologies Sdn Bhd at the UTM Institute of Bioproduct Development (IBD).

The research aims to develop a platform to incubate anaerobic/aerobic probiotics to boost the nutrient quality in insects used as feed for farmed animals such as poultry and in aquaculture.

This method will hopefully produce a sustainable and cheaper way to feed livestock, thus reducing the cost of rearing them.

The 20sqm laboratory is an on-campus facility where some 30 post and undergraduate students from UTM will be able to conduct research based on the requirements of the biotech firm.

The students will also be able to utilise off-campus facilities located at Nutrition Technologies’ factory in Senai.

Through the signing, both UTM and biotech company will be tied to a three-year agreement, where the university students will be given exposure to working in an industrial setting as well as long-term employment with the company.

Nutrition Technologies chief executive officer Nick Piggott said the main focus of the MOA was to create an indirect solution for the needs of a growing population.

“Solving the food requirements of an ever-growing world is the main concern for the company, and we hope to do this by providing price competitive and sustainable protein and oil to the animal feed market.

“We plan to do this with the research of probiotics that are added to biological waste, such as vegetables, which will then be fed to a Black Soldier Fly larvae. The larvae, in turn, will be processed into animal feed, ” he said.

UTM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Wahid Omar, during a press conference, said that working together with biotech companies was the way forward for the university’s development.

“In 2019 we collaborated with 1,200 industries as a means to improve innovation efficiency.

“This is crucial, especially with the increasing international competition and rapid technological change, ” he said, adding that allowing industries to lead curriculum design and delivery through partnership is aligned with the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2015-2025.

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