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Can Edible Insects Contribute to Food and Nutrition Security?

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Many people are afraid of insects and would not survive in an environment infested with insects. In Tanzania, during the rainy season, especially in the evening, termites surround the lights on the verandahs of houses, and pesticides are sprayed into the air to kill the termites.

The home environment is fumigated to ensure the absence of insects. Yes, some insects, such as mosquitoes, are dangerous, but not all insects should be avoided. There are also insects.

Human consumption of insects is known as entomophagy.

Entomophagy has only recently attracted the attention of the media, research institutes, chefs and other members of the food industry, legislators and food and feed agencies. Nevertheless, edible insects are popular and valuable among many ethnic groups around the world.In some countries in Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas, more than 200 species of insects are consumed. . The most common types of insects consumed are crickets, locusts, grasshoppers, caterpillars, bees, ants, wasps, beetles, termites and mealworms.

Edible Insects of Tanzania

Edible insects found in Tanzania include East African longhorn grasshoppers, winged termites, and Miombo tree caterpillars/larvae. Longhorn grasshoppers are now consumed by many tribes across the country and are also sold in supermarkets across the country.

Grasshoppers are a prized traditional food of the Kagera region and are sometimes given as a traditional wedding gift or served as a main course along with cooked bananas and ugali (hard porridge). . Part of the Dodoma region and Vitemv in the Kigoma region. In addition, some insects known as mbuwambos are popular in the Ruvuma region.

Edible insects are underutilized in many Tanzanian households, but they are highly nutritious. Mealworms, for example, contain protein, vitamins and minerals comparable to fish and meat. Mealworms are also rich in micronutrients such as fat, fiber, iron, zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese, phosphorus and selenium. Insects can be ground into a powder or processed into a paste to enrich complementary foods for children under five.

With increasing demand for food, especially animal protein sources, ensuring access to edible insects offers an effective solution to meet the nutritional needs of the growing population in Tanzania and the rest of the world. increase.

Supporting the insect value chain

Apart from their nutritional value, edible insects are beneficial, accessible and can be an important source of income. Insects can be easily collected from the wild or farmed with minimal capital investment and technical knowledge. They are environmentally friendly, provide families with a good source of income and employment, and help ensure food security for their families.

When it comes to agriculture, edible insects require less land and water compared to other agricultural systems. Edible insects are generally available to many low-income households in terms of consumption, harvesting, and agriculture. As a result, sellers bear minimal farming costs and can sell their products at lower prices than fish and meat, thus benefiting consumers.

After mentioning all the benefits of edible insects before, people are advising us to value edible insects the same way we value fish and other meats.

I would like researchers to conduct research on edible insects and their nutritional value with a focus on cooking, packaging and advertising. We also want to encourage nutritionists and food system stakeholders to play an active role in promoting edible insects in food production and consumption.

Given the internal and external pressures to transform food systems, supporting the entomophagy value chain can help some societies address food and nutrition insecurity.

*Author is FAO Tanzanian food security and nutrition expert