16-04-2022 by Freddie del Curatolo
The near future of the nourishment of the new Kenyan generations and the most vulnerable population comes from crickets. We do not mean the talking crickets of politics, which are sometimes more (dramatically) comical than our own, but the orthopterous insects of which the African country is full, as well as many other species of the animal kingdom.
Of the crickets, birds, reptiles and mammals are voracious consumers. The herbivores of the savannah do not despise their flavor and alternate it with leaves and, in the rural villages of Kenya, women have always been able to distinguish between those that are edible for mankind and those that can provide protein for their children.
Now researchers at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Nairobi, Kenya, have discovered a new, previously unfiled edible cricket that could play an important role with mass reproduction for human consumption and inclusion as an alternative protein ingredient in animal feed. The species, which was collected and bred for experimental purposes at the Center's campus, has been named "Scapsipedus icipe Hugel & Tanga," and its discovery was reported in an article recently published in the journal Zootaxa.
It is mainly about making it suitable for large-scale distribution, especially as a supplement to the so-called "fortified" flours that have now conquered the market. Since 2012, the Kenyan government has made it mandatory to fortify wheat flour, as well as dry-milled corn products, salt and vegetable fats.
At the level of "artisanal" production, in fact, this type of cricket, which abounds in Kenya, is already ground and added, for example, to the ingredients of porridge used in schools.
Many companies already use certain types of insects and research aims to convert these processes using the cricket that, for example, in porridge provides at least twice the amount of protein, three to four times the amount of crude fat and twice the amount of iron and zinc.
"Scapsipedus Icipe is widely cultivated throughout Kenya - explains one of the ICIPE scientists who studied the insect - However, until now its true scientific information was not available, and it was mistakenly mistaken for a different species of cricket known as Acheta domesticus."
With input from the Danish agency Greeninsect, Kenyan scholars have been researching the potential of edible insect farming as a key contributor to future nutrition in poor countries for the past three years.
According to the Danes, Kenyan crickets have the potential to become one of the sustenance foods of the future, both for humans and livestock, and it is not at all difficult to breed Scapsipedus on a large scale.
Researchers have also determined that the Kenyan cricket is also rich in essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins, with 88 percent of its nutrients digestible by the human body.
Over 600 000 children aged between six months and five years, and nearly 70 000 pregnant and breast-feeding women need treatment for acute malnutrition.
It seems that, if you want it, in Kenya you can try not to die of hunger, provided that certain findings do not end up only in the consumer industry that makes further business to get rich to the detriment of those who have fewer and fewer opportunities to eat in a healthy and economical way.
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