Development of insect-based food product and insect farm model

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Development of insect-based food product and insect farm model

BeninReino Unido
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

To comprehensively tackle issues of i)unaffordability of imported RUTFs against malnutrition and ii)widespread food insecurity and lack of agricultural diversification in Benin, we propose to develop a)locally produced insect-based products and b)educational framework promoting insects for nutrition

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Benin is among the poorest countries in the world (167/187 HDI), and struggles to resolve issue of food insecurity and malnutrition. This is a two-fold problem, and has to be: a)treated among those who suffer from nutritional deficiencies - but existing imported RUTFs are expensive and not always accessible (a full 2-months treatment with Plumpy’nut® costs around US$ 60/child). These costs are mostly due to the sourcing of non-local ingredients and shipping. b)prevented from re-occurring- but food security policies remain inefficient in ensuring agricultural stability. Lack of adequate prevention of malnutrition through food security measures has been identified as a major bottleneck. Nutritional education, food accessibility and reliability have to be addressed in order to prevent malnutrition.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Home-grown solutions are more likely to tackle local problems effectively. Edible insects are an underutilized local resource. They are: - nutritious: protein, iron, magnesium, niacin - inexpensive and efficient to farm (80-90% feed to protein conversion rate) - already traditionally hand collected in Benin for food (BFL, 2013) Hence, setting up insect farming in Benin would capitalize on the nutritional values of insects to manage malnutrition and respond to demand. We tackle the 2 major barriers outlined above through: A:development of sustainable, local and cheap insect-based products to be distributed in hospitals B:create a community package for rural communities to start small scale low cost insect farms -manual, training, construction of insect farm By developing alternative nutritional products within local traditions we could provide an additional benefit to local economies. This has the potential to help alleviate poverty and malnutrition at multiple levels.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

In North Benin 50% of children are estimated to suffer from chronic malnutrition. Nutritional centers, such in the regional St Jean de Dieu Hospital, Tanguieta, can only afford to cater for the most severe cases - explains Elizabeth, a nurse we met during our research on edible insects in Kosso and Cotiakou. Local hospitals provide RUTFs and advise mothers to mix maize or millet flour to "petit poisson", dry fish, to feed their children at home. However this is not a cheap alternative in land-locked Tanguieta. By developing an affordable and sustainable nutritional product we hope to fulfill the urgent needs of more children in need. Mathieu, the Director of the school of Cotiakou, has different concerns: “We need to stop relying on products from the outside, and build on our own resources and traditions to ensure that we will have food now and in the future." Building an insect farm attached to the school and developing an educational program on the importance of insects as a food could do the trick! Several communities in Benin currently consume insects (Tchibozo, 2005; BFL, 2013) which are traditionally collected by hand from the surrounding vegetation. However this practice is getting lost due to changing lifestyles and urbanization. The Wama people of Kosso eat a variety of insects, mostly collected by children, but the quantities obtained only allow for snacks. As the village struggles to fill the nutritional demand of its growing population, increasing insect accessibility would allow Kosso to increase food production and agricultural diversification.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

A: Regional insect-based food production plant: 1. Insect-based products would improve the health of malnourished children (rich in protein, vitamins and several minerals lacking in typical rural diets) 2: Insects can be farmed and produced locally ensuring greater food security and sovereignty 3. Local production would contribute to Beninese economy by employing people in insect farming 4. Insect food development would further research in food science by African institutions 5. Insect farming has a low ecological impact B: Community insect farms: 1. Community programs protect traditions by promoting insects in modern diets 2. Respond to findings in previous research that local supply of insects could promote higher consumption and allow selling of insects 3. Community programs provide skills in insect rearing - this model could be replicated to provide training in other villages 4. Local food production increases the degree of rural food sovereignty and food security

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

A:Once product development and testing, infrastructure and distribution channel are in place, production and maintenance costs are low, as insect rearing and processing requires few resources and technology is simple. The product pricing will be determined so that it is affordable but can recover costs B:Need initial funds to create program, but inputs (insect, feed) are readily available. Farms replicable locally with low costs for building

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

A:6000$ would start a pilot rearing of 400sqm (6kg insect flour/month). The protein-rich product can then be mixed with local flour (1:5 to 1:10) to provide for at least 5kg of final product Pilot phase (1-2yrs): product delivered for free to health centers. At the end we will have quantifiable data on the competitive pricing of the products Long term: BFL (2013) found demand for more affordable product (e.g. local and with low production costs) than RUFTs/alternatives. Insect products and plant design will be marketable B:Potential market for produced insects since termites are harvested in large quantities are already sold in Benin (BFL, 2013). The farming model can be sold to NGOs interested in tackling food insecurity with entomophagy and community can gain income from training others

Founding Story

Bugs for Life is an interdisciplinary scientific and international development team for the promotion of edible insects. Our drive to develop insect-eating to address malnutrition was born from an earlier visit to Northern Benin to explore traditional entomophagy ( for report and for documentary). In Benin we met agronomists and entomologists from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) with extensive experience in food security projects. Together we developed the idea of a sustainable insect product to address child malnutrition, with Forlani Engineering and Services in charge of the technical side of the insect production and processing plant. Our close contact with communities affected by malnutrition was the source of inspiration for these ideas following their demands and ambitions.
About You
Bugs for Life
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Bugs for Life

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Nutrients For All
Where do you ensure the availability of nutrients?

Nutrient-rich farming, Full nourishment foods.

If you had greater capacity, which additional sectors would you like your solution to target - either through expansion, partnership, or thought exchange?

Nutrient-rich farming, Full nourishment foods, Human wellness and vitality.

How specifically would this added capacity help you improve the quality, efficiency, or sustainability of your existing product or service?

Added capacity, for example through increased attention by influential bodies such as government entities, or through additional funding possibilities, would allow for increased visibility, and open up the possibility of replication. In fact, we believe that this two-fold model could be useful not only in Benin but potentially to other African countries, and thanks to the IITA's experience across the continent we believe we could have a more extensive reach, and be able to propose this innovative solution to a large number of communities.