Piles of garbage have become a common sight in several urban landscapes, and a free-meal party spot for various scavenging insects. China, making use of scavenging cockroaches as mobile waste assimilation units (MWAUs), has found a brilliant method of waste disposal. Every day, 50 tonnes of kitchen waste, including food, which weighs equal to seven adult elephants, becomes a feast for billions of roaches at a farm outside Jinan, in eastern Shandong province.
An eco-friendly process
As a huge number of cockroaches is not too hard to find, this method of disposal of mountains of kitchen waste every day is quite an eco-friendly one. About 200 tonnes of food waste can be processed daily by a single farmer possessing 4,000 tonnes of these giant American cockroaches with a lifespan of around 700 days, reported The Economic Times.
Following the 700 days of these well-fed cockroaches’ life, they can be used as inputs for Chinese medicine therapies meant for healing wounds.
Before daybreak at the plant which is run by Shandong Qiaobin Agricultural Technology Co, the waste arrives and is fed to the cockroaches through pipes in their cells, reported Reuters.
Jinan, which is home to nearly 7 million people, might get three more such plants next year, as per Shandong Qiaobin’s plans.
Due to African swine fever outbreaks, there was a nationwide ban on feeding pigs with food waste, which is another reason for the enormous growth of the cockroach industry. “Cockroaches are a bio-technological pathway for the converting and processing of kitchen waste,” said Liu Yusheng, president of Shandong Insect Industry Association.
Similar efforts in Sichuan
47-year-old Li Bingcai in a village in Sichuan has similar ideas. Li was earlier a mobile phone vendor and has now invested a million Yuan ($146,300) in cockroaches. Pig farms and fisheries buy these cockroaches from him as feed, and drug companies buy them as medicinal ingredients. He now possesses 3.4 million cockroaches in his farm.
“People think it’s strange that I do this kind of business,” Li said. “It has great economic value, and my goal is to lead other villagers to prosperity if they follow my lead.”
Although his village has two farms, he wants to create 20.
A company called Good Doctor, also in Sichuan, is now rearing 6 billion cockroaches. “The essence of cockroach is good for curing oral and peptic ulcers, skin wounds and even stomach cancer,” said Wen Jianguo, manager of Good doctor’s cockroach facility.
Researchers are also trying to find ways to use cockroach extracts in diet pills, beauty masks and hair-loss treatments. These cockroaches at Gooddoctor are blasted with steam at the end of their lifespan, washed and dried, and then finally sent to a huge nutrient extraction tank.
Since it would be a disaster if the cockroaches escaped, precautions have been taken. There is a moat filled with fish and water, so in case the cockroaches escape, they will fall into the moat and be eaten by the fish. Eco-friendly as the method is, getting rid of these huge hills of waste every day might as well become an easier task if other countries plan to adopt it too.
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