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Kenyans can now eat crickets for breakfast

Mwangi Mumero @PeopleDailyKe

Kenyans will soon taste the newly discovered edible cricket, according to researchers working at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe) in Nairobi.

The recently discovered species, Scapsipedus icipe, gives great promise for mass production for human consumption and inclusion as an alternative protein ingredient in animal feeds, says scientists working on Icipe’s insect for food and feed programme.

Its discovery has been published in the Zootaxa Journal, a global publication. “Scapsipedus icipe is widely farmed across Kenya. However, until now its true scientific information was unavailable and it was erroneously mistaken for a different cricket species known as Acheta domesticus L,” notes Icipe scientist, Dr Tanga Mbi, who found the insect as part of his postdoctoral research.

Dr Mbi’s focuses on the cricket’s habitat, sound behaviour, and current distribution across the country and its nutritive profile. According to the researcher, this knowledge will enable the development of proper, more effective rearing techniques, and ultimately the effective incorporation of the species as a component in food and feed.

The insect is commonly found around buildings and fields. The species is characterised by a distinctive yellow band between the eyes and differs from other species within the genus Scapsipedus by a characteristic call and territorial nature of its males.

In the last three years, Icipe and its partners have researched on the potential of farming of edible insects for food now and in the future.

“We have tested indigenous Kenyan cricket species to investigate their potential to become ‘mini-livestock’ for mass production as feed and food,” says Dr Nanna Roos, Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, a partners in the Icipe Insect research project.

He says the discovery of Scapsipedus icipe is exciting and important, not just because it is a new species to science, but also because the species already has demonstrated great potential in large-scale farming.

Globally, according to Icipe, over two billion people in Africa, Asia and South America consume 2,000 different species of insects — a chief source of proteins.

Icipe has highlighted the importance of insects in boosting supply of proteins in an ecologically –friendly way to the growing populations, especially in the developing world. Insects make a viable source of food and feed.

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