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Impact 0498: Challenging ourselves to create a more sustainable future

Ho Song Thye · 28 March 2022
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Youth Action Challenge (YAC) is a platform for youth to provide solutions that tackle the issues we are concerned about. Since October 2021, over 80 teams and more than 310 youths have undertaken the YAC Season 3 journey.

Ho Song Thye, 24, is a third-year Bachelor of Environmental Studies student at the National University of Singapore. In his free time, he is an advocate for sustainable fishing, and enjoys nature walks as well! He strongly believes that creating a sustainable future should be one of society’s biggest priorities, and he also strongly believes in making an impact through educating our younger generation. Today he shares more about the work that Insect Feed Technologies does!

What was your role within your YAC project?

Insect Feed Technologies focuses on creating a more sustainable future through developing alternative sources of protein—insect protein—through Black Soldier Flies (BSF). My main role in the YAC project was to conduct R&D to ensure optimal growth conditions for the BSF, assess the impact of our project, as well as to conduct market research to ensure the viability of our products.

What motivated you to join YAC?

I had read about how people had very positive experiences in YAC, especially regarding how the environment at YAC is very nurturing. As an open-minded person who likes to take on challenges and work in teams, I was very receptive to the idea of joining YAC. I also wanted to ensure that beyond desk-based research, our team was able to learn from experienced industry experts in the field, which we could do through the YAC mentorship.

Can you share with us your experience with your YAC project?

Overall, I must say that it was a very positive experience. I must commend the YAC team for their hard work and effort in organising the challenge, and the patience and guidance provided by the YAC mentors were unparalleled. Pitching and presenting your work in a challenge is vastly different from how you conduct presentations in school, and working with my team to learn how to present our ideas in a more professional manner was a very enriching experience indeed. Ten out of ten!

What are some challenges you faced while working on your YAC project?

One of the challenges was balancing school work with the project. There were deadlines to meet for YAC, as well as school work assignments to complete. As such, time management skills and self-discipline are imperative when working on such projects. I am very proud that my team exemplified such skills and worked together through thick and thin to do our part to work towards a more sustainable future. 

There were also times when everyone had different viewpoints towards a certain issue, and had to take the time to understand and process each other’s viewpoints in order to make a decision. In the end, we made compromises and ensured that everyone was agreeable.

Could you share more on how your project has a positive impact?

Vast amounts of food waste is thrown away daily—we can just take a look at the bins when dining at our hawker centres. They are often full of food waste, and this problem is prevalent worldwide. The food waste often ends up at landfills where they rot and produce methane gas, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. 

Another problem we face is a rapidly growing population worldwide, and that means more mouths to feed and more meat to be produced. However, food sources for the farming of meat such as soybean feed is limited in production as we have already deforested large amounts of land for soybean production. As such, we need to develop alternative sources of protein. 

Our project upcycles the food waste which is consumed by the BSF, and the BSF can then be used as insect protein as a source of animal feed and even pet feed, killing many birds with one stone.

Were there any key takeaways or learning points from your time with YAC?

My key takeaway is to always be open to taking up challenges—the first step is always the hardest. I would encourage others to take the first step to sign up for competitions or challenges to gain experience. Not only did I learn how to work better in a team, I also gained leadership and time-management skills, as well as how to present ideas in a real-world context—it was a very fruitful journey overall.

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