UK organization is calling on African countries hit by food shortages to start eating insects, according to a report published in The Guardian said. The pilot project aims to expand the practice in countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe, the outlet added. Since they require less land and water than traditional livestock, edible insects have long been hailed as a resource-efficient source of protein. Expansion of the practice, however, has been difficult in many parts of the world due to cultural reluctance and taste issues.
African caterpillars, migratory locusts and black soldier flies are being served as part of a £50,000 UK charity project in the DRC in a bid to realize the significant benefits on paper of eating the insects, says The Guardian report.
In many parts of Africa, edible insects are a frequent component of traditional cuisines, and it is thought that over 250 species of insects may be edible in the region.
There is growing interest in using insects as human food as the world’s population grows.
Insects are a good source of high quality animal protein, as well as lipids and macronutrients. The many species of edible insects, a readily available and inexpensive source of food, can help ensure food security.
The effort is being carried out in the DRC’s North and South Kivu provinces, where cattle ranching is one of the few opportunities for rural residents to earn a living. However, as the population grows, there is less room for animal husbandry, and livestock production puts a strain on water resources.
In the South Kivu region, 23 types of insects are already consumed. The Congolese do not often produce it; on the contrary, they gather them opportunistically depending on the season. The African palm weevil, leaf litter beetle, termites and crickets are among the edible insects frequently eaten in the region.
According to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), the number of people in the Horn of Africa at risk of starvation has risen to 22 million.
Years of poor rainfall in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia have led to the worst drought in 40 years and famine-like conditions in the hardest-hit regions, say aid organizations.
Millions of animals have been killed, crops have been devastated and 1.1 million people have been evicted from their homes in search of food and water due to four unprecedented rainy seasons.