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Flying Food: Food with a Future

What if … there were a solution for malnutrition in Africa, that is not harmful to the environment and that offers income to women and young people with few resources? ICCO sees enormous potential in the value chain that is based on a climate-resistant, input-efficient and protein-rich source of food: crickets!

Flying Food: Food with a Future

Worldwide, 812 million people, mainly women and children, suffer from malnutrition. In addition, as many as 2 billion people have a shortage of the most important vitamins and minerals. While the demand for food is growing, large-scale forms of conventional agriculture and animal husbandry put pressure on the environment. Scientists acknowledge that population growth and climate change demand a transformation of the global food system.

Crickets have a neutral taste

Crickets have a neutral taste and are easy to prepare. They can be blanched, roasted, or processed into food bars or flour for bread or porridge. They contain a very high % of protein and micronutrients such as iron, zinc and folic acid. Crickets grow fast: with a constant temperature, a cycle from egg to harvest takes 12 weeks.

Crickets are climate resistant

Crickets are climate-resistant and do not depend on rain or fertile land for survival. Unlike cattle, they need very little: a small space, 2 hours of care per day, a bowl of water and some protein-rich food are sufficient. This makes it a suitable business for women, who can combine it with other tasks and taking care of their family, or for young people who do not have their own land.  The most important requirements are knowledge of the right techniques, good hygiene (crickets are very clean) and precision.

Market-driven approach

A few years ago ICCO joined the Flying Food Coalition, including TNO, Kreca, NGN and WUR,  to pioneer the cultivation of crickets in Kenya and Uganda. In these countries, crickets are already being eaten but only when caught in the wild.

During this period techniques were developed and validated for breeding crickets for the market in Kenya and Uganda, as well as business models. The plan is to further develop and scale this model for production, processing, marketing and consumption of crickets, with a market-driven approach. For this ICCO is in the process of mobilizing funds. At the moment ICCO is involved in feasibility studies in Burundi and Rwanda.

Besides increasing supplies, attention is also paid to marketing and consumption for which we use experiences from Manq’a. An ICCO concept that is very successful in Latin America in promoting locally produced food by training unemployed youth as chefs who work specifically with these ingredients.

Expertise on context

ICCO provides expertise on the context and local economic development, and is responsible for connecting the various parties in the value chain. Wageningen University (WUR) and Kreca are responsible for the techniques of breeding crickets, TNO provides technical infrastructure and develops the business case together with WUR. New Generation Nutrition (NGN) develops ways of processing crickets. Local partners play a key role for the sustainability of flying food.