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

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]
7 July 2015 This 24 minutes video in Chinese shows how restaurant food waste is being converted by insects (black soldier flies) to produce protein feed for fish farmers. Some excellent images and a nice review on this fast developing insect farming sector in China as part of the green- (or circular- as called in China) economy. [more]
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]

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last updated:  Thursday, April 16, 2015