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.

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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.

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

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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

 

Kenyans, Rwandans and Ugandans: Blog to Win a Trip to Washington, DC


Deadline: December 02, 2016-January 15, 2017 | Online

Agriculture is the backbone of the East African regional economy, as it accounts for about 32% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Growth in the agriculture sector helps raise incomes, create employment opportunities, reduces poverty, and accounts for about 70% of employment opportunities in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. Despite being a field vibrant with innovations driven by young people, those engaged in agriculture are typically elderly, and the number of youth with jobs in agriculture continues to drop. Why are young people shying away from agriculture? How can agriculture be made ‘cool’ for the youth? It’s your turn to have your say. Tell us, in no more than 500 words, what you see as opportunities for youth to prosper in agriculture and agro-business.

About:

Now in its third year, the #Blog4Dev Contest is an ideas-sharing platform for youth in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. This year, the World Bank wants you to share your thoughts on youth and agriculture.

For a chance to win a trip to Washington, D.C. in April 2017, discuss the following question in an original blog of no more than 500 words:

To farm or not to farm: What opportunities exist for youth to prosper in agriculture and agro-business?

Submit the blog post in English by January 15, 2017 here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/65FSQJD

Eligibility:

Must be a Kenyan, Rwandan or Ugandan citizen residing in your home country, and be aged between 18 and 28, and the blog post must be written in English.

Selecting Criteria:

A panel of judges made up of World Bank staff in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda will review the submissions to determine the winning entries.

The winning submissions will be selected on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Originality and creativity
  • Clarity
  • Practicality
  • Potential for scale-up

Awards:

Consultancy Opportunities: Country Level Study on the Status of the Higher Agricultural Education Sector


Photo Credit: Koraplatform

Photo Credit: This photo has been sourced from Koraplatform.com

Science, technology and innovation is critical for responding to the challenges of African agriculture and to elevate its performance and contribution towards economic development and poverty alleviation. Universities have a key role to play in producing the next generation of the African workforce, including researchers/scientists, extension and advisory service practitioners, input dealers and other development practitioners that are expected to generate, translate, extend and share knowledge with rural farmers to increase agricultural productivity, agribusiness and incomes. Trained human resources in a wide range of topics, aligned to the Science Agenda for African Agriculture, are central to stimulating science-based technology innovation. Research has shown the returns to investment in higher education are around 20%, and in Africa closer to 30% (Borland et al., 2000; Montenegro and Patrinos, 2013; USAID, 2014). These are higher returns to investments than in both secondary and primary education.

Although higher education enrolment and graduation rates have increased considerably gross enrolment ratios remain low, with only 6% of Africans enrolled in universities (Bloom et al., 2006) compared to 40% in Latin America and 94% in North America. Moreover, the increase has come at the expense of quality with expenditure per student falling significantly. There is thus an urgent need to invest in higher education and for higher education to transform itself to produce the quality of graduates and knowledge needed to achieve the African Unions Agenda 2063.

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Apply Now: MSc in Natural Resources Management for Tropical Rural Development


Application Deadline: Friday, 10 July 2015.

The Application Procedure outlined below applies only to applicants from countries eligible for scholarships by the Italian Cooperation, and who are interested in the ‘Land and Water ‘ curriculum. Candidates from other countries, including Italy, are invited to apply directly to the University of Florence, at their own expense.
In 2015 the Italian Cooperation will provide funding for 16 participants to be selected from the following countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal.

ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS

If you have earned a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture, Forest Sciences or Natural Sciences, after no less than a 3-year undergraduate course, you are eligible to apply for a scholarship to attend the MSc in Management pf Natural Resources for Tropical Rural Development.
A very good knowledge of English, the working language of all academic activities, is an essential requirement.
Women are strongly encouraged to apply.
Applicants employed in public or academic institutions and non-governmental organizations are encouraged to apply.

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