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

22 June 2015 Crickets require 12 times less feed and 13 times less water than cattle to produce the same amount of edible protein, and not nearly as much farmable land. [more]
1 June 2015 It is about 4:00 p.m. and Mary Adhiambo, a resident from Kisumu in Western Kenya, is busy frying winged termites in a cooking pot. Adhiambo, a hawker in one of the local markets in the region, has turned to the trade following the onset of the rains which have caused the nutritious insects to thrive and swarm in large numbers. She is among the many traders in the region now minting money from selling the termites. [more]
7 May 2015 A future in which cricket chips could be found on the shelves of an American grocery store next to their potato- and corn-based peers might not be that far off -- or at least that’s the hope of a number of start-ups selling food products that incorporate edible insects as key ingredients. [more]

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last updated:  Thursday, April 16, 2015