Edible grasshopper processed ready for consumption on display for sale in Nigeria's North Eastern city of Maidugri.. PHOTO Credit: Onche Odeh

Kenya now has a new set of code of practice for insect farming, harvesting and processing aimed at boosting commercial insect farming in the East African country by supporting the development of insect-derived protein-rich food products for human consumption across the region.

With the new code as established by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), industries in the country can now get accreditation and their products will be issued with a KEBS certificate enabling them to sell their products in the local markets and abroad.

KEBS Food Standards Manager, Peter Mutua, who descried the new standards as a milestone, said, “With this code of practice, insect farmers, harvesters and processing industries can now get accreditation and their products will be issued with a KEBS certificate enabling them to sell their products in the local markets and beyond the country.”

Faith Nyamu Wamurango, ICIPE research officer at a black soldier fly demonstration and learning site in Kasarani, Kenya. PHOTO CREDIT: IDRC

Insect farming has been identified to offer lots of potential benefits for insect farmers and the society at large. A 2020 study by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) revealed that if 50% of the fish meal traditionally used in animal feeds were replaced with insects, there would be enough fish and maize to feed up to 4.8 million more people each year in Kenya. This, according to the study would also enhance employment opportunities by creating 33,000 jobs every year, which could help reduce poverty for up to 3.2 million people.

The study also stated that the insects could recycle as much as 18 million tons of waste into frass fertilizer for crop production each year, enabling greener cities and helping to tackle pollution.

As part of its mission to pioneer global science in entomology, ICIPE has been collaborating with IDRC to research the use of insects in feed for poultry, fish and pig production in Sub-Saharan Africa (INSFEED). Part of the project has been devoted to training more than 200 small enterprises and 6,000 farmers on rearing, feeding and commercializing insects.

Now in its second phase, the project continues to test and review production scaling models and market opportunities for smallholder farmers in Kenya and Uganda.

Edible insects like grasshoppers are rich sources of protein.

Dr Chrysantus Tanga, INSFEED project leader and ICIPE research scientist, explained that, with the development of the standards, “new opportunities have emerged to start the development of the insect value chain in order to harness the prospects across the entire chain that will allow producers, processors and suppliers, especially youth and women, to earn more income from insect farming,”

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