Eating crickets can end malnutrition in children

Eating crickets can end malnutrition in children and ensure food security by boosting the nutritional value of food, a 2017 research conducted by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology has revealed.

“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”said Carolyn Koech, a GREEiNSECT PhD scholarship beneficiary.

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Currently, 3.5m children in Eastern Africa are suffering from malnutrition and in Kenya, 3.4m people are facing starvation as a result of prolonged drought early this year which affected food production in the country, according to a report released in October 2017 by Word Vision Kenya.

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Carolyn Koech (left), JKUAT PhD student in Food Science and Technology explains to Prof. Abukutsa (center), farmers and Prof. Obanda (right) how cricket lay their eggs

 

 In this, cricket farming can play a critical role towards economic empowerment and food security in the country.

“Crickets offer a highly economical, sustainable solution to existing food and nutrition insecurity with the production and distribution of high quality protein to meet growing demand,” said Dr. John Kinyuru, JKUAT Cricket Project Principal Investigator

“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.”

Indeed, in the study conducted by Carolyn Koech, a PhD student in Food Science and Technology at JKUAT, she focused on the effectiveness of cricket based food on pre-school children in Cheptigit primary school, Uasin Gishu County.

From January to July, 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 crickets.

Koech observed that the children that ate the porridge that contained crickets gained weight and their cognitive ability improved.

“Crickets have high protein content compared to soya beans and beef which are among the common conventional sources of proteins” said Koech.

 Therefore farmers can try this new venture which is low maintain ace and eliminates challenges such as: unreliable rainfall, low crop yields, high energy costs, lack of access to modern farming technology and insufficient access to capital.

In order to rear crickets there are several factors to consider according to Melissa Kaplan’s Herp Care Collection.

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 approximately Sh3000 inclusive of the cost required for the initial breeding colony of crickets. At least 200 crickets are required to start a colony and the colony should not be used for feeding until well established the nymph has metamorphosed to an adult.

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