I wish to extend a warm welcome to members of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand and to guests of Dr Yupa Hanboonsong and FAO. Thank you all for coming to meet the authors of FAO’s latest book: Six-legged livestock: edible insect farming, collecting and marketing in Thailand. This is a very important book for FAO; one that points the way to a promising aspect of future food production. We are launching the book just eight days after FAO’s landmark global report was issued at our Headquarters in Rome. That report, Edible Insects: Future Prospects for food and feed security, received widespread media coverage focusing as it did on the potential future impact that increased insect consumption may have on global food security.
Today’s publication focuses on edible insects that are farmed, collected, marketed and eaten in Thailand, where insect consumption is already widespread. In fact, it has increased dramatically in recent decades compared to historical levels. In Thailand, insects constitute a food of choice. On occasion, I eat the little crickets myself and find them really very tasty. With growing consumer demand, high market prices are being paid in Thailand for edible insects. The cost of edible insects is typically higher than the price of chicken, beef or pork! Insect farming in Thailand has emerged as a significant economic activity in the past two decades, driven by strong market demand and supported by university research and extension, and innovative private-sector food processors and sellers.
This is not to say that the book we are launching here today is not relevant to our larger world. At present, there are nearly 2 billion people suffering from micronutrient deficiencies, especially vitamins and minerals. Global food production will have to expand by an estimated 60 percent from today’s levels by 2050 to meet the food needs of 9 billion people; that’s 2 billion more than exist today. To meet the deficiency and the increased need, the consumption of under-used and under-appreciated foods such as edible insects will have to increase. Potentially, edible insects could make a solid contribution to meeting future food and nutrition demands especially protein, vitamins and minerals, and the rest of the world might do well to read this book and see how it works in Thailand. No need to reinvent the wheel. Thailand has lessons to teach and this book is full of them.
This book is a collaboration between the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and Khon Kaen University that should help readers understand the phenomenal development and evolution of the Thai edible insect sector. It reviews and assesses the trends, current status and practices of insect collection and farming, processing, marketing and trade in Thailand. We hope that this book will show others in the region and throughout the world the potential that edible insects have to contribute to food security and nutrition in a sustainable manner, while reducing the environmental burden of feeding a growing population.
Now, I’m very pleased to introduce one of the three authors of 6-Legged Livestock, Patrick Durst, FAO’s senior forestry officer, who will give you some insight on why we think this is a very important book for everyone concerned with food, farming and nutrition.