Insect and hydroponic farming: An innovative solution for Africa’s food security crisis in fragile and conflict countries

About 1 to 2 billion people globally consume insects, including in Africa. Insects are more environmentally sustainable than other animal proteins and more nutritious than soybean protein. But currently, insects are mainly collected in the wild, posing potential dangers. Insects foraged in the wild could be eating crops sprayed with harmful pesticides. Over-harvesting insects can increase the risk of running down the ecosystems, as seen with the Mopane worms in southern Africa. Insects collected in the wild are also seasonal and mostly unavailable in the lean season.  

Farming insects can provide a healthy, all-year protein supply of nutritious food for humans, livestock, and fish – right now, we often use fish to feed livestock and fish. Operations can be established at a low cost, opening up opportunities for climate-resilient jobs, including for women, youth, and refugees who often live in locations with limited resources. They can be established in arid areas and cities while at the same time conserving biodiversity and other essential natural resources. We can feed insects with organic waste, such as household, agriculture, or brewery waste while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating climate-resilient livelihoods. Waste from insects can then be fed back into the system as organic fertilizers to help improve soil health.  

These innovative approaches can strengthen the African food system and fits a circular economy that can complement conventional farming. Survey data collected for the report in 13 African countries show that there are already 850 insect farms that produce insects for food and feed in these countries. Imagine collecting 30% of agriculture waste of the top five crops in the top 10 African agriculture economies and feeding it to Black Soldier Flies.  

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