Trends towards 2050 predict a steady population increase to 9 billion people, forcing an increased food/feed output from available agro-ecosystems resulting in an even greater pressure on the environment. Scarcities of agricultural land, water, forest, fishery and biodiversity resources, as well as nutrients and non-renewable 
energy are foreseen. 

The Contribution of Insects to Food Security, Livelihoods and the Environment

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Edible insects contain high quality protein, vitamins and amino acids for humans. Insects have a high food conversion rate, e.g. crickets need six times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep, and twice less than pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein. Besides, they emit less greenhouse gases and ammonia than conventional livestock. Insects can be grown on organic waste. Therefore, insects are a potential source for conventional production (mini-livestock) of protein, either for direct human consumption, or indirectly in recomposed foods (with extracted protein from insects); and as a protein source into feedstock mixtures.

Since 2003, FAO has been working on topics pertaining to edible insects in many countries worldwide. FAO ’s contributions cover the following thematic areas:

  • the generation and sharing of knowledge through publications, expert meetings and a web portal on edible insects;
  • awareness-raising on the role of insects through media collaboration (e.g. newspapers, magazines and TV);
  • the provision of support to member countries through field projects (e.g. the Laos Technical Cooperation Project);
  • networking and multidisciplinary interactions (e.g. stakeholders working with nutrition, feed and legislation-related issues) with various sectors within and outside FAO .

 News

Interview: Edible insects in Laos and Thailand 14 January 2016 Edible insects have long been an important component of the traditional diets of millions of Asians, but more recently insect farming and commercialization have opened up new opportunities for rural development, livelihood generation and nutrition, particularly in Southeast Asia. In this interview with Skyfood, Patrick Durst, Senior Forestry Officer with the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, elaborates on the evolving nature of edible insects within the socio-economic and dietary structures of Thailand and Laos, production and marketing channels, potential future directions and FAO’s support for work in this area. Skyfood is a Swiss-based media channel focusing on research, politics, interviews, videos, and publications about edible insects, hosted by Daniel Ambuehl. [more]
27 July 2015 Pan-roasted red ant is a delicacy in Mexico, and a dish of sautéed mopane worms would not raise an eyebrow across Southern Africa. Over two billion people eat insects routinely but converting Western consumers to the joys of entomophagy remains a hard sell. North America's first edible insect farm has taken up the challenge and a booming production line is reaching new markets across the continent and Europe. [more]
7 July 2015 Cordyceps: The “grass of heaven”- the world most expensive traditional medicine, an insect larvae collected by highlanders in the Himalayas mountains and Tibet, is now being farmed in China, thanks to technological breaktroughs in its domestication process. Some great images showing live cycle, harvesting in Tibet, and farming and sales in China. [more]

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last updated:  Thursday, April 16, 2015