Edible insects: the answer to African food security?
For the past four years Monica Ayieko, a lecturer at Maseno University in Kenya, has looked into the feasibility of using insects — termites and mayflies — for cooking.
Ayieko believes that insects may offer a simple solution to Africa's fragile food-security situation and could eradicate malnutrition, writes Harold Ayodo in this article in The Standard.
Insects are not only readily available, even in arid areas where people often experience famine, but also rich in essential nutrients such as protein, fatty acids, vitamins, calcium, iron and potassium.
There are over 500 edible insects in Africa, and nutrition studies show that eating 100 grams each day provides enough nutrients to maintain good health.
Ayieko has proof that they are beneficial: for example, both mayflies and termites help lactating mothers to produce milk.
An insect-food industry could also provide income to rural women, as well as meeting the nutritional needs of their families.
Ayieko won about US$20,000 from the Research Project for Sustainable Development to fund her research, and has patented her method of using the insects for dough and butter.
The Kenya Bureau of Standards is now investigating samples of her muffins, crackers, sausages and meatloaf to see if they could eventually be sold in supermarkets.