Kenyans will soon have a wider dietary choice after researchers reported the discovery of a new edible insect in the country.
Researchers at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe) in Nairobi have announced the discovery of a cricket with great promise for human consumption and inclusion as an alternative protein ingredient.
The species, which was collected and reared for experimental purposes at the centre’s campus, has been christened Scapsipedus Icipe.
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Its discovery has been reported in a paper published recently in the Zootaxa Journal.
Insect-eating is not a new phenomenon among Kenyans, with Icipe reporting in the same journal that a variety of beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers and locusts form a formidable part of Kenyans’ dinner plates in most parts of the country. “Scapsipedus Icipe is widely farmed across Kenya. However, its true scientific information was unavailable until now and it was erroneously mistaken for a different cricket species known as Acheta Domesticus,” noted Icipe scientist Tanga Mbi, who discovered the insect as part of his post-doctoral research.
Dr Mbi explained that over the past three years, Icipe has conducted research on the potential of farming of edible insects as an important contributor to nutritious food.
Scapsipedus Icipe, which is commonly found around buildings and fields, is characterised by a distinctive yellow band between the eyes and differs from other species in the genus Scapsipedus by a characteristic call and the territorial nature of its males. The researchers aim to conduct further studies on Scapsipedus Icipe with the aim of incorporating it into the group of insects for food and feed initiatives in Kenya.
Researchers want to establish the best rearing conditions under different temperatures for the new species.
The centre is also advancing research on its nutritional quality and safety.