cockroach farming
Insight & Analysis - May 22, 2022

How Tanzanian Celebrity Pivoted into Lucrative Cockroach Farming 

After running into losses rearing chicken and ducks, Tanzanian celebrity Saumu Hamisi, known as Ummy Doll, decided to give cockroach farming a shot and now raking in good revenue. She doesn’t only do it for business; she also enjoys eating the insect.

In her words, people were initially shocked when they found that she eats cockroaches. The shock is connected to the fact that roaches are dirty, smelly, nasty, and creepy insects.

This mindset changed when people realised she was making money from cockroach farming. People also started to see it as a good source of income. Also, to her, cockroaches are like any other food and taste like chicken or fried fish.

To set up her roach farm, she said, “I bought them from an institute located in Morogoro. They do not have diseases, and I ensure they stay in a clean environment.”

She, therefore, warns people from consuming cockroaches they find in their homes. For optimum Cockroach farming, she advised that the insects be kept in darkness, heat, and enough food.

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Cockroach farming space in Africa

In some parts of Africa, eating insects such as cockroaches, locusts, and flying termites have a long history and serve as delicacies. However, insect farming is relatively alien. 

Africa consumes roughly a quarter of the 2,100 edible bug species identified globally. Out of the edible insects, 18 are found to be feasible for farming for animal and human consumption.

Cockroaches are one of these insects, and cockroach farming is becoming increasingly popular across Africa.

Daniel Rwehura is a cockroach farmer pioneering the business in Tanzania. To him, the insects are a goldmine. According to him, cockroach farming and generally insect farming is incredibly inexpensive. Apart from farmers that feed their animals with insects, people also buy for consumption.

Rwehura says the industry is expanding as research organisations further conduct insect studies.

Do we all have to eat cockroaches in the future?

Of the 198 countries globally, 80% of people eat insects such as cockroaches and locusts. Apart from being a cultural delicacy, insects are also sustainable and nutritious.

According to the World Bank, insect farming can be used as a protein means to rear animals. It provides up to 14% of the crude protein required to feed animals on the continent.

With its high protein concentration, the market for insects as food and animal feed is estimated to be $8 billion by 2030.

In terms of nutritional value, insects are topping the chart. Mealworms, for instance, contain the same amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals as fish and meat.

Also, grasshoppers have the quantity of protein as lean beef but with less fat per gram. So they’re up there in terms of nutrients.

In addition, ants are acidic, sweet, and nutty; stink bugs taste like apples; red agave worms are spicy; and grasshoppers taste like walnuts, mushrooms, coffee, or coffee chocolate (depending on what they eat).

The major advantage of breeding insects is that you generate far less methane than you would with animals when it comes to sustainability.

The insects also create 300 times less nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas; far less ammonia than raising pigs and other livestock. Also, it helps generate less CO2 compared to raising chickens.

Another point is the feed conversion rate. Insects eat less food and give more output. For instance, crickets require six times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep, and half the feed needed by pigs and broiler chickens. 

Generally, they reduce carbon emissions.

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