Scientists at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe) have discovered a new cricket species with protein content of 60 per cent higher than that of chicken which is 30 per cent to enhance nutrition in both human and livestock.
The insect which is known as Scapsipedus was collected and reared for experimental purposes at Icipe’s campus and it can be produced in large quantities for human consumption as well as use as protein ingredient in animal feeds.
“This type of crickets can be reared in the house and they have more protein content compared to chicken, which has a protein content of about 30 per cent,” said Godfrey Were, researcher at Egerton University Department of Dairy Food Science.
Study by most researchers indicates that the most common nutrient deficiency is that of proteins. Since most feedstuffs are low in proteins, protein supplements may be necessary.
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Scapsipedus is commonly found around buildings and fields. It has a yellow band between the eyes and differs from other species within the genus.
“Scapsipedus is widely farmed across Kenya. However, until now its true scientific information was unavailable,” said Dr Tanga Mbi, the Icipe scientist who found the insect as part of his post-doctoral research.
He said the insect for long has been mistaken for a different cricket species known as Acheta domesticus L.
The cricket was discovered by icipe’s insect for food and feed programme that is implementing several projects GREENiNSECT, funded by the Danish International Development Agency.
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Nanna Roos, an associate professor, department of nutrition, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, said the discovery of the insect is exciting and important, not just because it is a new species to science, but because it already has demonstrated great large-scale farming potential.
The Icipe’s headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, is the only research institution in Africa working primarily on insects and other arthropods. Icipe’s mission is to ensure better food security, health and livelihoods in Africa, by producing world-class knowledge and then developing solutions that are environmentally friendly, accessible, affordable and easy-to-use by communities.
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These objectives are delivered through four thematic areas — Human Health, Animal Health, Plant Health and Environmental Health.
The Insect feed for poultry and fish production in sub Saharan Africa (INSFEED) project has focused on the identification of suitable insect species, assessing the potential market and nutritional attributes of the products, and development and adaptation of cost-effective insect rearing, harvesting, and post-harvest techniques for smallholder producers.
It will also establish the risk factors associated with the insect-based feeds along the food chain and their mitigation strategies as well as conduct research to inform policies for promotion of safe, sustainable and cost-effective use of insect in the feed sector.
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