Neglected Insects as a remedy for food insecurity: the case of crickets


By Carolyne Kipkoech, PhD student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology

Carolyne Kipkoech, PhD student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology

Carolyne Kipkoech, PhD student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology

I am a Kenyan national, with a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) where I graduated in 2005. I always had a passion for disease prevention, which is why I later studied a Master of Science in Immunology at Moi University where I graduated in 2009.  After my master’s degree, I worked with the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH) Programme. This exposed me to the broader field of Public Health, although still with a focus on disease prevention though improved nutrition.

In 2015, I merited a scholarship under the Danish Agency for International Development through GREEiNSECT to undertake a PhD in Food Science and Nutrition at JKUAT. For my thesis research, I am working on “Use of edible cricket to improve child nutrition in Kenya”. My inspiration for this topic was derived from the fact that house crickets (Acheta domesticus), common across Africa, are a highly valuable yet neglected source of proteins.

Insects are a delicacy in many parts of the world, including Africa, but for many communities in Africa they do not constitute a main diet. Crickets in particular have higher quality animal protein than some conventional sources, such as fish, and are more affordable among poor communities.  Additionally, they thrive in various environmental conditions -including dry areas, they multiply in a short span of two months, use very little space, and feed on organic waste that they then turn into high quality protein. They can thus be a viable solution to food security challenges. Given the nutritional importance of crickets and other edible insects, I am keen, as a young researcher, to build a research agenda on the use of insects as food.

When I started my research on crickets, many friends and colleagues at the university wondered what I was up to. To them it was a laughing matter. Nonetheless, I soldiered on and the first time I harvested crickets, everyone I run in to on campus stopped to look. I smiled as I proudly showed off the crickets and some even followed me to the lab to see what I would do next.

Once at the lab, I dipped one part of the crickets into hot water for one minute and then sun-dried them to be later ground for use in making porridge, cookies and other sweet delicacies. The other part I deep-fried to get crispy crickets that would be eaten whole by those brave enough. To my surprise, the deep fried crickets were everyone’s favourite because of their delicious aroma and taste.

jkuat1

The biggest endorsement of our cricket products happened during the Sixth Tokyo International Conference of Africa’s Development (TICAD) held in Nairobi in 2016. At a conference pre-event hosted at JKUAT, the Vice Chancellor invited the conference participants to sample our crickets. You would not believe what happened after the invitation; everyone was keen to sample the crickets! They tasted not once, not twice, but took several helpings until there was no more! The enthusiastic reception of the cricket meal could have also been due to the presence of participants from different countries, continents and cultures, some of whom had tasted cricket before and helped to demystify their consumption as food.

jkuat2

After this exposition, the crickets were on high demand in JKUAT and its environs and the story made news in the Kenyan media.

jkuat3

With the increasing global population, one of the strategies to improve food and nutrition security is to diversify diets using available food sources. We actually have plenty of food around us, but we do not exploit it. I look forward to the day when crickets will be widely accepted across cultures in Africa and world over as part of the daily diet so that more people will get access to quality cheap protein.

Kenya is already taking maiden steps towards exploiting the high protein value of crickets by using it to address child malnutrition. A pilot initiative in Uasin Gishu County, is currently providing cricket porridge to school going children between the ages of three and five years. It is my wish that other countries and communities will follow suit and make use of this wonder food.

Both Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT) and Moi University that the writer attended, are members of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). RUFORUM is a Network of 66 universities in 26 countries in Africa. Carolyn Kipkoech can be contacted on: kipkoechcarolyne@gmail.com or carokoech@yahoo.com

 

Mobility grants scheme: Networking opportunities for African stakeholders in brokerage events in Europe


The Research and Innovation Network for Europe and Africa (RINEA) is a project funded under Horizon 2020 with the aim to enhance STI cooperation between EU and African countries through the support to bi-regional policy dialogue and the strengthening of synergies between research and business communities from the two regions. For more information about the project please visit www.rinea.org

The current mobility grant scheme is conducted by FORTH/PRAXI Network and JyU/UniPID, partners in the RINEA project, and is addressed to applicants representing SMEs, universities, research institutions and other R&I organisations based in African countries, active in priority Food Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (FNSSA) and related fields.

The funding scheme is designed to facilitate the participation of researchers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and other relevant stakeholders in networking and brokerage events organised in the context of RINEA and beyond.

Successful applicants under this grant scheme will receive financial support in order to participate in one of the following brokerage events:

The events are organised in the framework of Enterprise Europe Network and they promote business, technological and research partnerships. Representatives from business and research communities will have the opportunity to explore possible synergies and build new partnerships following a programme of pre-arranged meetings.

For more information about the aforementioned events, the grant scheme rules for participation, eligibility criteria, and the application procedure please refer to the documents below:

Contact

FORTH/PRAXI Network

Ms. Vaya Piteli, piteli@help-forward.gr, +30 2310 552790-1

Mr. Dimitris Filippidis, filippidis@help-forward.gr, +30 210 3607690

JyU/UniPID

Ms. Melissa Plath, melissa.a.plath@jyu.fi, +358 (0)40 024 8075

New Program: Masters in Food and Nutrition Security starting in 2016


MSc

A new cross faculty interdisciplinary MSc, starting in 2016

Departments of Food Science, Agricultural Economics and Human Nutrition Stellenbosch University

Why do MSc Food and Nutrition Security?
Food and Nutrition Security studies are complex and multidisciplinary by nature, with human livelihoods at the core. The MSc (Food and Nutrition Security), taking a broader, more comprehensive approach, will train specialists capable of functioning in a multidisciplinary team. They will be skilled at outlining, implementing and evaluating integrated food and nutrition security policies, adjusted to the specific needs and possibilities of Southern Africa and further afield. Click here to read more.

Integrating nutrition into the curricula of agriculture education institutions


Join this Ongoing Discussion

This discussion aims to explore how to integrate nutrition into the training of agricultural workers, what components to include and what results to expect in terms of improving nutrition. To stimulate a debate on this important topic, the facilitator Mebit Kebete Tariku proposes to reflect on the following questions:

  • What’s the role of agricultural colleges and higher education in promoting nutrition sensitive agriculture?
  • What does “integrating nutrition into the curriculum” mean?
  • What are the essential competencies of “nutrition” to include in the training of agricultural workers?
  • How do we expect graduates to use the new knowledge and skills in their daily work?
  • What can agricultural workers do to promote food and dietary diversification and better nutrition outcomes?
  • Do you have experiences of integrating nutrition in to the curricula of agricultural higher institutions?

Participants are sharing direct experience as well as views on the matters raised, which you can read on the discussion webpage, including the French and Spanish versions.

How to participate
Send your contribution to FSN-moderator@fao.org or post it on the FSN Forum website www.fao.org/fsnforum

This has been reproduced from http://www.fao.org/fsnforum/forum/discussions/integrating_nutrition