Updated Apr 03, 2018

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Seeds to Feeds Project - Startle Ventures

Producing nutritious animal feeds from seeds of the widespread invasive Prosopis juliflora tree in Kenya.

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Startle Co

Stage 2: Research & Development

Feasibility Studies have been conducted in partnership with universities and local research organisations, confirming potential for scaleable opportunity.

Focus Areas:

Agriculture, Natural Resources and Nutrition

Agriculture, Natural Resources and NutritionSEE LESS

Implemented In:



Key Partner
Country Implemented In
Funds Raised to Date


Population growth and rising incomes have increased demand for animal feeds in Kenya. Prices are increasing, which in turn influences the cost of human foods. Meanwhile, the invasive tree Prosopis juliflora creates widespread environmental, social and ecological problems, notably in drylands. The tree also produces copious amounts of nutritious seeds; however, these go to waste for lack of knowledge of their value, absent collection networks and inadequate processing techniques.



We create value for marginalised rural communities, farmers and agro-processors by creating knowledge and technologies to produce animal feeds from a neglected but plentiful local resource, Prosopis fruits. We solve root causes (policy, commercial, technical); and develop commercially-viable solutions to growing a vibrant Prosopis-fruit-based animal feed processing value-chain, for replication across all countries with Prosopis invasions – thus also slowing its spread.

Target Beneficiaries

Farmers and agro-processors benefit from a new nutritious, low-cost feed ingredient that is available in abundance. Creation of new value chains offer substantial money-making opportunities to women in impoverished dryland areas. Such women, but also unemployed youth, presently have few cash-earning opportunities. By collecting seeds, they will be able to generate meaningful additional cash incomes. Prosopis-based animal feeds reduce competition with human food, such as maize.

Mission and Vision

Our vision is to simultaneously contribute to food security and environmental preservation. Our mission is to develop technological and business model innovations that enable the production of animal feed from the under-valued seeds of Prosopis juliflora, a highly invasive tree that is present in hundreds of countries worldwide. This reduces spread of the tree; delivers incomes to low income communities; and unlocks a novel feed ingredient resource available in vast quantities.

Innovation Description

Our innovation concerns the production of nutritious animal feeds, and ingredients, from the seeds of an invasive tree – presently not widely used for this purpose. We will undertake:

1. Resource mapping. Affordable remote-sensing methodologies able to discriminate/quantify Prosopis from other vegetation, to enable commercial exploitation.

2. Community harvesting networks created that are culturally/gender-appropriate; pay fair prices; and realise high quantities of acceptable quality Prosopis seeds.

3. Separation technology developed, able to remove seeds from surrounding mesocarp. We designed and will prototype a machine appropriate for, and affordable by, SME feed producers to ensure wide uptake.

4. Practical production processes tested and demonstrated; food safety risks identified and managed, including toxin contamination; adapted to uptake by feed manufacturers.

5. Suitable Prosopis-based feed recipes designed, tested and demonstrated, through animal feeding trials, to remove hesitations within feeds industry and from consumers.

6. Commercial scaling strategies developed, including value chain analysis, production, distribution, marketing and sales planning, and investor-ready (financial) business plan suitable for uptake by private sector operators.

Competitive Advantage

Startle, through it’s portfolio company Tinder EcoFuels Limited, operates established rural collection networks for Prosopis wood, and has years’ experience working in Prosopis-invaded areas with local communities. It is able to leverage this expertise, and its local infrastructure, for the collection and processing of Prosopis seeds.

The seed separation technology innovation that we will develop can remove the internal seeds from surrounding mesocarp, thereby producing two high-value ingredients instead of whole milled pods. Internal seeds contain high levels of protein; the surrounding mesocarp is rich in sugars, fibre and other valuable ingredients. Separation is mechanically difficult but we have identified practical engineering pathways. Such technology will produce two high value ingredients instead of a single whole milled meal of mediocre value - a major competitive advantage over the status quo.

Planned Goals and Milestones

Having completed extensive literature, engineering and practical field research, the next goal is obtain funding to:
* Map the Prosopis resource in detail;
* Set up harvesting networks;
* Produce seed separation technology;
* Establish practical production protocols and systems;
* Design and test feed recipes;
* Develop commercial strategies for scaling.
Funding Goal250,000
New Implemented CountriesEthiopia, Djibouti, Tanzania, Somalia
Recruit2 management; 1 field coordinator; 1 animal feed production consultant; 1 production manager
New FeatureInvasive species control and utilisation; Animal feeds from Prosopis juliflora; Novel seed separation technology development (mesocarp removal); Remote sensing hyper-spectral tree species differentiation; HACCP and toxin control in animal feeds


Mar 2017
Recognition ReceivedPENDING
Feb 2015
Key Partnership
as part of
Date Unknown
New Country Implemented In

Supporting Materials