How to rear crickets for food
Population increase in the country and the world has led people looking for alternative sources of food. Human consumption of insects as food is known as entomophagy.
Insect consumption is perceived as a cheap and affordable option for people coming from economically challenged backgrounds, mostly in rural areas highlights biasharaleo.co.ke
Crickets and other insects have become a great source of protein, calcium, iron and zinc that supplements the diet. Research says crickets contain more protein than beef and chicken.
Cricket farming boosts food security and can be a good source of income.
Rearing crickets is catching up even in limited spaces like urban areas as they require very little space to keep and a little capital to start.
Rearing crickets is considered to be environmental friendly in terms of waste and have a low production cost.
Crickets make a chirping sound that is made by the male to attract the female.
There are two categories of crickets’: house crickets that are commonly reared and edible and field crickets that are found out on the fields.
Crickets are kept in plastic containers. This is because they can neither eat through the plastic nor escape from the containers. A net is placed at the top to prevent pests which might want to feed on the crickets and further prevent their escape.
A farmer uses cotton to provide water to the crickets which they drink from and lay eggs on.
Maize cobs and carton boxes such as egg trays placed in opposite directions work well as hideouts for the crickets as they do not like light.
Crickets can be reared all year round. They feed on vegetables such as kale, potato and banana peels and left over food notes fao.org
On large scale rearing in pens with about 30,000 each, a farmer can buy drinkers and feeders where they put water and food for the crickets.
Favorable, moderate temperatures, not too cold or hot, should be maintained.
Incubated eggs mature after one month; after which the crickets mate again and lay more eggs for another month.
Crickets require a clean habitat thus regular cleaning by the farmer is important to avoid diseases and infections which could lead to death of the insects.
Crickets can be harvested by freezing where they undergo permanent hibernation.
To make flour from crickets they are either suffocated in plastic bags or boiled in hot water then dried on the sun before grinding into powder or porridge flour.
The powder is blended with wheat flour to make cookies, biscuits, chapati, mandazi, bread, waffles, muffins and cakes.
The porridge flour is popular with mothers who prefer it for their children as it contains minerals important for children growth and development.
Drying them in the sun increases their shelf life and makes them safe for human consumption free of bacterial and mold.
Dried crickets can also be cooked to make them crunchy and ready for consumption.
Crickets can also be fed to poultry due to their rich nutritional value and supplement poultry feeds.
Cricket feeds are fed to broilers for faster weight gain to maximize profits for poultry farmers.
For a farmer to practice large scale farming of insects such as crickets, permits from the Kenya Wildlife Service have to be obtained in order for the breeder to adhere to regulations.