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    Crickets have high protein content compared to soya beans and beef which are among the common conventional sources of proteins. (pic: 

    Many smallholder farmers across Kenya and Africa as whole face many challenges including: unreliable rainfall, low crop yields, high energy costs, lack of access to modern farming technology and insufficient access to capital. These challenges can be done away with slowly if farmers try a new venture; cricket farming.

    Carolyn Koech, a Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology PhD student in Food Science and Technology has carried out a study on the effectiveness of cricket based food. The study which was conducted on preschool children in Uasin Gishu County aims to ensure food security and boost the nutritional value of food consumed by children in school.

    According to Koech, crickets have high protein content compared to soya beans and beef which are among the common conventional sources of proteins.

    From January to July this year, Koech provided over 120 nursery pupils with three kinds of porridge meals. One contained Millet and Maize, the other included Millet, Maize and Milk, while the final porridge meal contained Millet, Maize and Cricket.

    READ: Insects to supplement proteins in animal feed

    Cricket has been incorporated in cakes and biscuits and adding it to porridge seemed like a noble idea to tackle the issue of malnutrition in children,” said Koech.

    Koech, the GREEiNSECT PhD scholarship beneficiary, says the high protein content in crickets can be utilized to solve the Protein-Energy-Malnutrition (PEM), a condition that is evident in children suffering from Kwashiorkor and Marasmus.

    Dr. John Kinyuru, Koech’s supervisor, acknowledged that the next step is to train the local community on cricket farming for value addition saying that cricket rearing will be vital towards reduction in food insecurity not only in the region but the country as a whole.

    READ: Sweet potato vines and roots silage offers livestock more proteins

    “I know that entomophagy (eating insects) irks some people but it is a high time we realize that insects are highly nutritious, and also far more environmentally friendly to raise than conventional livestock,” said Dr. Kinyuru.

    Ms. Florence Chepkosgei, the Cheptigit Nursery School head, admits that since the beginning of the study, most children have gained weight and their cognitive ability has improved.

    The main challenge Koech faced in her study was convincing the preschool children to consume porridge that was mixed with crickets.

    According to Melissa Kaplan’s Herp Care Collection there are several things to consider before one can consider rearing crickets:

    Materials required
    The materials required for a basic setup are as follows:

    • 2 Large Plastic storage containers - 'Rubbermaid' or similar (Breeding containers)
    • 3 Medium sweater boxes (Rearing containers)
    • 6 - 500 ml ( 1 pint) plastic tubs (Nesting and food containers)
    • egg 'flats'
    • Heat pad (optional) - medical types available at most drug stores work well
    • Water dispenser - small chick waterer available at feed shops or specialty pet shops.
    • Several jar lids
    • Quilt batting or plastic scouring pads
    • Aluminum mosquito screening

    The cost to establish a basic system is about 3000 Kenyan shillings plus the cost of the initial breeding colony of crickets. To start such a colony at least 200 crickets are required, and the colony should not be used for feeding until well established and your first babies are adult-sized. The crickets can be purchased quite inexpensively from a cricket supplier.

    As long as the crickets have food, water and a high temperature they will breed profusely.

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    Hilda Gacheri with her traditional banana fibre bag 

    One innovative form 3 student at Materi Girls high school in Tharaka Nithi County, Kenya has made an eco-friendly bag from banana barks and leaves as the ban on plastic bags takes effect.

    Hilda Gacheri a student from a humble background realized she had no enough money to purchase a bag to carry her items to school. She thus resorted to making the environmentally friendly bag as a cheaper alternative to buying a modern shopping bag which would have cost her at least 200 shillings, an amount she could not afford.

    READ ALSO: Low cost innovation hands Homa Bay farmers disease free yams

    Back at her home in Meru County, the traditional bag is nothing new as they always make such bags to carry farm produce after harvesting them from the farm. She thus saw no harm in utilizing the same for her shopping as schools re-opened.  

    The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has recognized her efforts and named her the brand ambassador of alternative carrier bags. She would use the opportunity to mentor other students and Kenyans as a whole on the importance of living in a clean, safe, secure environment.

    READ ALSO: Farmers tame post harvest losses with homemade innovations

    In Kenya, a large number livestock have died after consuming plastic bags as they roam from one region to another in search of pasture. A study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNDP) released three weeks ago found that 15 per cent of all cows slaughtered in the capital Nairobi were full of plastics in their stomachs.

    READ ALSO: Companies step up war on horticultural pests with new innovation

    The bags once consumed by animals over time end up in human bodies after people eat meat, with some researches indicating the plastics lead to cancers, birth defects, developmental problems in children and immune system suppression.


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    According to research done by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Mushrooms can lower blood pressure and control cancer

    Mushrooms are fungi and can be classified into three basic ecological groups, Mycorrlizal, parasitic and Saprophytic. Different mushrooms have different Nutrition values but generally they are rich in protein, fibre, and vitamins and low in cholesterol and fats, and are therefore healthy to eat.

     Agaricus (Buttons):

    This is the most common mushroom in the Kenyan Market.  Their colour varies from white to brown as does the size, from small to extremely large.  They are plump and dome shaped.  Their flavor is enhanced through cooking.

    Growing of this mushroom requires the preparation of compost made from cereal straws, supplemented with horse, chicken, and even cow manure.  The material is stacked turned and watered to elevate the temparatures which encourage proliferation of thermo tolerant microorganisms which convert cellulose compounds into cellular proteins.

     The compost is then pasteurized with elevated temps to neutralize pests by selectively favoring thermo tolerant fungi and actinomyces. Farmers in Kenya are growing- Strain Agaricus bisphorus which fruits at 19 to 20 degrees centigrade which proves difficult for many farmers as most of Kenya is Warm.

    The institute for biotechnology research Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology has developed a warm weather strain- Agaricus bitorquis which fruits at 25 to 26 degrees centigrade, which farmers are finding easy to grow.

    READ ALSO: Using Agricultural waste to grow mushrooms

     Nutrition of Agaricus- Buttons    :

    Moisture                      : 88-90%

    Crude Protein              N x 4.48

    Fat                               : 1.7 – 3.1%

    Carbohydrates               : 51.3 – 62.5%

    Fibre                            : 8.0 – 10.4%

    N-Free Carbohydrates     U4.0 – 53.5

    Energy (Kcal/100g dry Material)

     Medicinal Value:

    • Improves Immune System
    • Alleviates Allergies
    • Improves Kidney and Liver function
    • Rich in fibre – mops disease causing toxins from the digestive system

    READ ALSO: Water hyacinth provides good substrate for mushroom farming

     Pleorotus -Oyster:

     This mushroom has convex cap expanding to broadly convex eventually flat and even upturned in age, 5 – 20cm in diameter.  The colour is white to yellow or grey.  The colour varies according to strain, lighting and temperature condition.  Some strains grow in clusters while other form individuals.

     This mushroom is gaining popularity in Kenya because of the ease of growing utilizing a big variety of agricultural wastes.  When cooked, it has an intense flavour.  (Pasteurization is done with steam or boiling water).

    This is proving expensive for small farmers due to cost fuel, and farmers are adviced to use cheaper pasteurization methods of soaking material overnight in 3% solution of hydrated lime.

    READ ALSO: Once jobless youths earn Sh4 million monthly from mushrooms

     Nutritional Value:

    Crude protein          - 10 -30%  

    Vitamin C                -30 – 144mg/100g

    Folic Acid                 -65mg/100g

    Potassium                 -306mg / 100g

     Medicinal value:

    Active ingredients “LOVASTATIN

    • Lowers blood pressure
    • Improves kidney and liver function
    • Cures gastrointestinal disorders
    • Lowers blood cholesterol
    • Relives pain in gout – 100g/day.

     Lentnus -Shiitake:

    The cap of shiitake is broad, hemispheric expanding to convex and eventually plane at maturation. The colour is black brown at first becoming light brown in age.

    Growing shiitake utilizes saw dust, chips, rice straw, bran buffered with Gypsum. Pasteurization of substrate requires elevated temps of 121°C for 4 – 5 hours which is a challenge to small growers.  Methods suitable to small farmers are being developed at the University to make small growers afford growing shiitake.

     Nutritional Value:

    -  Protein         -           13 – 18%

    -  Niacin          -           55mg/100g

    -  Thiamin        -           7.8mg/100g

    -  Riboflavin    -           5.0mg/100g    

    -  Fibre -                     6 – 15%

    -  Fat                -           2 – 5%

     Medicinal Value:

    Active ingredient – “LENTINAN”

    • Improves immune system by activating the helper “T” cells
    • Controls cancers
    • Slows HIV virus by increasing the CD4 cells count.

    This mushroom upon drying can be ground and put into capsules, or used to add value to other foods.


    This mushroom is conk-like or kidney like in shape.  Its wood textured and will be 5 – 20cm in diameter, and has a shinny surface which is black brown.  In nature, it grows on dead or dying trees.  It’s also found on three stumps and especially bear the soil interface and occasionally on the soils arising from buried roots.

    Medicinal Value:

    • Improves immune system – activating the helper ‘T’ cells.
    • Lowers blood pressure
    • Cures liver disintegration disease
    • Controls cancers.
    • Lowers Cholesterol
    • Cures Chronic fatigue syndrome
    • Cures Insomnia
    • Slows ageing process.
    • Improves well being by calming the nervous system.

     Ganoderma can be consumed by grinding the dried mushroom which can be added to tea.  It can also be boiled for 5 min, and extract used.  5gms is traditionally prescribed per day.  A glass a day of the extract will maintain your health.

    Advantages of mushroom production- why mushrooms?

        - Kenyans are changing  eating habits. Tourism Industry is growing.

         -Mushroom growing is not rain dependant.

         -It utilizes agricultural wastes as growing media.

        -Subdivision and change of climatic patterns has made traditional crops like   maize, tea and coffee unprofitable.

        -Mushroom can easily be cultivated in urban areas.

      -  Mushroom growing requires little space.

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