Knowledge for better food systems

FAO report: Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security

The rising cost of animal protein, food and feed insecurity, environmental pressures, population growth and increasing demand for protein mean that alternative solutions to conventional livestock and feed sources urgently need to be found. Therefore insects as food and feed emerge as a very important issue of today.

The rising cost of animal protein, food and feed insecurity, environmental pressures, population growth and increasing demand for protein mean that alternative solutions to conventional livestock and feed sources urgently need to be found. Therefore insects as food and feed emerge as a very important issue of today.

The FAO, in its new study argues that the use of insects for food and feed can play an important part in addressing our growing challenges. The release of the report coincides with the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition in Rome (13-15 May).  

Entitled Edible insects Future prospects for food and feed security, the report considers the role of insects for nature and humans, the cultural, religious differences in the practice of entomophagy and why there are generally negative attitudes towards eating insects in Western countries.  It also deals with issues such as the ecology of edible insects, and how to best use it as a resource, dealing with matters such as collection, management and semi-cultivation. The report also provides details of how insects can be farmed, processed and preserved.

The potential environmental and nutritional benefits of using insects are underlined in the report, as is their role in contributing to income generation and livelihoods.  For example the report points out that insects have high feed conversion efficiency – crickets, for example, require only 2 kilograms of feed for every 1 kilogram of bodyweight gain.

The report says that a stronger emphasis on the nutritional and environmental value of insects may contribute to a shift in perception and offers suggestions as to ways of addressing the yuk-factor often associated with insects.  Governments, ministries of agriculture and even knowledge institutions in developed countries will need to be targeted, the report argues.

Another conclusion of the report is that there is a need in some countries to counter the growing westernization of diets so that entomophagy is preserved. Where food security is fragile, edible insects also need to be promoted as key foods and feeds for nutritional, cultural and economic reasons.

The report is available for download here. More about the Forest for Food Security and Nutrition conference can be found on FAO website here.

For more on insects on the FCRN website, see here:

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