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

Video: Can insects help feed a hungry world? 15 December 2014 Edible insects are growing in popularity across Cameroon as a savoury meal and are a well known rich source of protein. FRANCE 24 reports on an unusual culinary trend that some experts say could help feed a hungry and fast-growing planet. [more]
Recycling pig manure to chicken feed using fly larvae 9 December 2014 From animal waste to resources. The Hangzhou Tianyuan Agriculture Company rears fly larvae on pig manure to produce chicken feed protein. Includes a summary video showing Prof. ZhiJian Zhang, PhD from the Zhejiang University, HangZhou, China. [more]
Training 1000 people to become insect farmers in the capital city of Kinshasa 1 December 2014 A new FAO project is launched in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to strengthen the role of insects in local diets. FAO research shows that promoting the consumption of edible insects is a sustainable and sound way to combat chronic malnutrition as well as create new income generating opportunities in Kinshasa. [more]

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last updated:  Thursday, December 4, 2014