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Scientists want insects to be food to tame malnutrition
By Fredrick Oginga | Updated Jun 08, 2017 at 08:36 EAT
The project started in October 2015
To combat high rate of malnutrition, a team of researchers from Egerton University led by Dr John Nduko and Dr Anthony Kingori are working on a product that promotes insects as food arguing that they are as rich in protein as other sources yet very cheap and easily accessible.

The project which started in October 2015 has seen the researchers collect locusts and grasshoppers from which they are developing baby food and animal feed for fish and chicken.

The team started by collecting wild locusts from Nakuru and Baringo Counties and tried rearing them to establish the best incubator conditions for reproduction and hatching.

“We have now identified three species that multiply very fast and they also mature within four to six week. To process the baby food, we harvest mature locusts and grasshoppers, then freeze and dry them, after which we remove the outer cover and mix the product with finger millet and mill the mixture,” explains Dr Nduko, the project principal investigator, Department of Dairy and Food Science Technology at the University.

Though the team is now in the process of analysing the feed and making it ready for the market, Dr Nduku feels that there will be a need to develop a complex mechanism to convince mothers to give their children the new product.

“We have arranged a series of stakeholder meetings with women groups to enlighten them about the baby food and other products from the insects”, Dr Nduku reveals.

“After we are done with piloting, we intend to upscale and expand to other regions of the continent so as to provide cheaper and accessible sources of proteins, which will, in turn, help alleviate malnutrition in the continent,” he concludes.

The group is hoping that parents will look at the benefits rather that the myths surrounding insect products.

 “The rising cost of conventional animal protein, food and feed insecurity, environmental pressures, population growth, and increasing demand for protein among the middle classes has made insects such as locusts and grasshoppers emerge as sustainable alternative solutions to human food and livestock feed. The conventional sources of proteins such as chicken, beef and fish are not only expensive but also inaccessible to many households in Kenya presently,” Dr Nduku asserts.

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