Not everybody can afford to eat healthy diet all the time, some cannot even get sufficient nutrient in their only meal. With the world population increasing at an exponential rate, it is expected that by 2050, human population will be about 9 billion, thereby increasing the rate of food insecurity. Food is an important determinant of mental health. Studies have shown that one major nutrient lacking in the diet of people in developing countries is protein.
Insects to the rescue
Why suffer in the mist of plenty. You can get a good source of protein from those yucky insects.
Insects are known for many things, generally, as agents that cause diseases and should be avoided at all cost, these has made them undesirable even from their beneficial values. But do you know that feeding on insects can serve as a very good source of protein.
The practice of eating insects is known as ENTOMOPHAGY. Approximately 2000 species of insects are consumed globally and serves as a good source of lipids, proteins, amino acids and minerals (Dickie, et al, 2019).
A lot of benefit accrue from consumption of insects as food and feeds, most importantly it increases food opportunity for consumers, while having low environmental impact due to the limited requirements for arable land and water (Madau, et al, 2020). Feeding on insects will help to achieve the sustainable development goals, SDG 2 (Zero hunger), 3 (good health and wellbeing), and 11(sustainable cities and community),
Insects such as crickets, cockroach, grasshoppers, beetles and ants has found their way into our plates and they are not there to contaminate the food. The major species of insects commonly eaten in Nigeria, includes; Palm beetle, Termites, Grasshoppers, Crickets and Locust. Palm beetle Rhynchophorus phoenics larvae known as Kokoro muni muni or Ogongo in Yoruba has a high protein, Iron and Zinc content. Palm beetle protein contain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 which are recommended for diabetic and hypertensive patients with heart disorders (Finke, 2002). Black soldier fly larvae Hermetia illucens has also been used as feeds for poultry reducing the need for other food substitutes. Cricket farming is another big business idea which can generate good income, this delicious delicacy can be made into Cricket bread, Liquorice,and Cricket chocolate (Mikkola, 2019).
Farming this insects in small and large scale is easy, they can be reared on honey, banana and vegetables and leafy greens. If you are looking for a way to increase your monthly income, insect farming is the way to go. Cost of production is low and income generated can be as high. Turn over time is also fast, laboratory reared palm beetles mature within three to six months depending on the species and the diet.
Although it is generally acceptable to feed on insects, indeed some soldiers are trained to feed on insects in case they are caught behind enemy line without food and supplies. In Africa, insects is a major source of protein in the diet of village dwellers, however, some people still find it disgusting, this singular factor forms a major challenge to the profitability of commercial rearing of the insects (Mikkola, 2019). So while you consider the prospect and possibility of getting involved in the eating and farming of insects, I leave you to enjoy this meal of egusi garnished with crickets.
Dickie, F, , Miyamoto, M and Collins, C.M.(2019), The Potential of Insect Farming to Increase Food Security. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.88106
Finke, M. D. (2002) Complete nutrient composition of commercially raised invertebrates used as food for insectivores. Zoo Biology. 21:269-285
Madau, F.A., Arru, B., Furesi, R., and Pulina, P. (2020) Insect farming for feed and food production from a circular business model perspective. Sustainability 12 (13):5418
Mikkola, H. (2019) Introductory Chapter: Is the Insect Food Boom over or when it Will Start? DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.89801