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

Agro-Insight on Six Legged Livestock in Thailand 12 April 2014 Paul van Mele (Agro-Insight) reports on his experience on cricket farming in Thailand [more]
Eating Insects - New Proteins for Farm Animals 4 April 2014 It may not become your favorite dish, but in some parts of the world insects are considered a healthy and tasty source of food. In China animal farmers are using insects also as a low-cost and highly nutritious animal feed. Now nutrition experts are investigating how this protein-rich feed could be introduced to farmers in Europe. [more]
Boosting insects consumption in free-range layer diets 25 March 2014 A research project designed to increase insect consumption by free-range laying hens has been launched by organic certification body in the UK, the Soil Association. [more]

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last updated:  Wednesday, April 23, 2014