|Wednesday, November 25|
Insects as food and feed source: Research trends in Africa
* Chrysantus M. Tanga, ICIPE, Kenya
Globally, dietary deficiencies in protein, iron (Fe), Zinc (Zn) and folic acids are widespread, causing serious health problems such as anaemia, poor pregnancy outcomes, increased risk of morbidity and mortality, stunted growth, and impaired physical and cognitive development. Young children and pregnant women are the most risk group, especially in resource poor communities. Also, most of the available and accessible nutrient-rich food sources such as fish and soybean are imported and directed towards animal feed production. Therefore, the need to search for urgent eco-friendly alternatives becomes crucial. Edible insects are promising potential and sustainable alternative nutrient source for human and animal nutrition. Entomophagy is remarkably experiencing steady increase in sub-Saharan African countries where insects are widely accepted. This study provides in-depth information on inventory of edible insects in Africa and their protein, fat, amino acids, flavonoids, minerals (Fe, Zn), vitamins, chitosan, and digestibility values. Our results showed that over 552 insect species were consumed as delicacy in 75% of the countries in Africa. Over 80% of the species had crude protein contents that surpasses that of most plant sources but comparable to that of animal sources. The levels of Fe and Zn present in 8 edible insect species was 3 6 folds and 2 4 folds higher, respectively, than plant and animal-based food sources. Insect oils were much richer flavonoids, vitamin E and Omega-3/6 fatty acids. Insects had well-based levels of essential amino acids with 2-3 folds increase in lysine and methionine, which are highly limited in cereal-and-legume based food products. Folic acid levels of two cricket species (Scapsipedus icipe and Gryllus bimaculatus) was found to be 4 5 folds higher compared to that of plant and animalbased food sources. Chitosan extracts from crickets significantly inhibited clinical pathogens invitro. Furthermore, fish, poultry and pig fed insect-based feeds had significantly improved growth performance, egg production, egg quality, carcass quality and profitability than conventional fishmeal-based feeds. The impact of insect frass fertilizer on the growth and yields of vegetable crops and maize was significantly higher compared to existing commercial organic and synthetic fertilizers. These findings have enabled the development of standards that allows the use of insects for food and feed in Kenya and Uganda. We conclude that edible insects present unique opportunities for improving and filling the food and nutritional gap, especially for the rapidly growing undernourished populations in many resource-poor communities in Africa and beyond with a lower negative impact on the environment.