Insect farming for health and livelihoods
HEALTHYNSECT is an inter-disciplinary research project investigating the impacts of insect consumption and production on nutritional status, health and livelihoods in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.
Insects are some of the most promising sustainable and healthy food sources. They have rapid growth rates and high feed conversion ratios, making them less of an environmental burden than conventional livestock and chicken. Insects are a rich source of high-quality animal protein and micronutrients, which is important as micronutrient deficiency among the main dietary deficiencies in low-income countries. While consuming edible insects collected from the wild has long been a part of traditional diets, farming insects as “mini-livestock” is emerging as a novel animal production.
Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most nutritionally insecure regions in the world. Unbalanced diets and dietary deficiencies are among the main underlying problems of malnutrition. Insect farming holds the potential of becoming a sustainable and effective agricultural production-system, contributing to multiple Sustainable Development Goals if successfully introduced and adopted.
Building on the research and lessons learned from the 2014-2017 GREEiNSECT research project in Kenya, HEALTHYINSECT will fill critical gaps in our understanding of how insects can contribute to future sustainable food systems. HEALTHYNSECT’s core research activity is the implementation of a multi-site intervention study using a cluster-randomized factorial design to assess the main and combined effects of enhancing insect consumption and production on nutrition, health and livelihoods. The project includes the farming and consumption of three insect species in three countries: palm weevil larvae in Ghana, crickets in Kenya and nsenene in Uganda.
We investigate the role of:
- incentivizing insect farming by providing farmers with start-up insect farming kits and training;
- incentivizing insect consumption in rural communities by providing a nutritious insect-based food supplements designed for children along with nutrition education;
- a combined intervention of incentivizing farming and consumption as these factors are likely to have complementary effects.
The overall aim of HEALTHYNSECT is to assist the acceleration of policy development that promotes rural insect farming and the consumption of insects and insect-based products in Africa for sustainable development and improved nutrition, health, and livelihoods.
The specific objectives of the HEALTHYNSECT project are:
To develop an evidence-based framework describing the impact pathways from incentivizing insect farming and consumption to intermediate and long-term development outcomes related to nutrition, health and livelihoods.
To conduct a multi-site factorial intervention study that identifies and quantifies the pathways for enhancing the adoption of insect farming and consumption of insects and insect-based products.
To assess the impacts of incentivizing insect consumption through the provision of insect-based food supplements on household dietary diversity young children’s diets, and health and nutritional status in rural households.
To assess the impacts of incentivizing small-scale insect farming on household livelihoods and resilience. This includes production and dietary diversity, food security perception, resource allocation, income generation, and household agricultural asset composition.
To support research capacity building and regional East-West research collaboration in Africa for strengthening research capacity on edible insects in sustainable food systems.
HEALTHYINSECT brings together research partners from Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Denmark.
Dr. Jacob Anankware, Lecturer, Department of Horticulture and Crop Production, University of Energy and Natural Resources
Dr. Daniel Obeng-Ofori, Adjunct Professor, School of Agriculture & Technology, University of Energy and Natural Resources
Dr. Monica Ayeko, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness Management/ Agribusiness, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology
Dr. John Kinyuru, Lecturer and Research Scientist, Department of Food Science and Technology, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
Dr. Silvenus Konyole, Senior Lecturer and Head of Department, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology
Dr. Evans Nyakeri, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness Management/ Agribusiness, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology
Dr. Carolyne Kipkoech, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Food Science and Technology, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
Professor Philip Nyeko, Professor and Head of Department, Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism, Makerere University
Dr. Geoffrey Maxwell Malinga, Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism, Makerere University
Dr. Nanna Roos, Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen
Dr. Søren Bøye Olsen, Professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen
Dr. Jøren Eilenberg, Professor, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen
Dr. Mohammed Hussen Alemu, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen
Dr. Afton Halloran, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen
Dr. Saliou Nyassi, Head of the Technology Transfer Unit, International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology
HEALTHYNSECT is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark (MFA) and administered by Danida Fellowship Centre. The research results are independent, and the views and opinions expressed by project partners based on the research findings do not necessarily reflect those of the MFA.
Danida Fellowship Centre administers Denmark’s support to development research and research capacity building on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.
Magara, HJO, Niassy, S, Ayieko, MA, Mukundamago, M, Egonyu, JP, Tanga, CM, Kimathi, EK, Ongere, JO, Fiaboe, KKM, Hugel, S, Orinda, MA, Roos, N & Ekesi, S (2021), Edible crickets (Orthoptera) around the world: Distribution, nutritional value, and other benefits - A review, Frontiers in Nutrition, bind 7, 537915.
Kinyuru, J, Kipkoech, C, Imathiu, S, Konyole, S & Roos, N (2021). Acceptability of cereal-cricket porridge compared to cereal and cereal-milk- porridges among caregivers and nursery school children in Uasin Gishu, Kenya, International Journal of Tropical Insect Science.
Afton Halloran, Monica Ayieko, Jacqueline Oloo, Silvenus Ochieng Konyole, Mohammed Hussen Alemu & Nanna Roos (2020). What determines farmers’ awareness and interest in adopting cricket farming? A pilot study from Kenya. International Journal of Tropical Insect Science.