In Africa, there are more than 1,500 different types of edible insects. This provides numerous lucrative niches for insect farming in Africa.
Insect consumption dates back hundreds of years among Africans. Contrary to widespread assumptions in the West, eating insects is not a primitive or barbarous habit. In fact, insects are a better option than red meat because they have up to three times as much protein as beef and chicken.
Africa has a significant opportunity to capitalise on the rising global demand for healthy insect products as insect-eating becomes more widely accepted, particularly in Europe, the United States, and Canada.
It is not surprising that insects are in abundance on the continent due to Africa’s tropical climate.
Here are the 5 most lucrative insect farming niches in Africa.
1. Grasshoppers and locusts
Undoubtedly, this is one of the most lucrative and popular insect species in Africa. This is likely due to the abundant availability and how simple it is to capture them. These tasty insects are rich in beneficial fatty acids and crude protein.
Despite the similarity in their appearances, grasshoppers and locusts have some extremely distinct characteristics. Both grasshoppers and locusts spend most of the day active.
Locusts, in contrast to grasshoppers, live and travel in extremely large groups known as “swarms,” and they are well-known for their capacity to completely eradicate large regions of vegetation in a short period of time.
Grasshoppers and locusts can be roasted, baked, or fried, and they can also be served with sauce or spice. However, due to the enormous spines on the tibia of these insects, scientists have observed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) that intestinal constipation may happen when these hoppers are eaten without the legs being removed.
Additionally, grasshoppers and locusts share striking similarities with crickets. Crickets, however, stand out from the other animals because they are more active at night and produce the distinctive sound known as “chirping.”
Usually, hunters use their sounds to find and capture them. They typically reside in burrows dug into the ground.
Crickets can be fried, grilled, or roasted and eaten with a sauce or spice, just like grasshoppers and locusts.
Spiced and fried termites are typically eaten with ugali, corn, millet, or sorghum-based porridge in East and Southern Africa.
Termites have developed into a lucrative market niche for insect farming in Africa due to their abundance in Omega 3 fatty acids, and how high they are in proteinous nutrients,
Up to 65% of termites are made of protein. Termites are abundant in nutrients like iron and vitamin A, just like the majority of other edible insects.
They serve as a good source of supply of essential nutrients in underdeveloped places where other animal proteins like meat and fish may be prohibitively expensive.
They are typically picked while it is raining because they are more active then.
4. Mopane worms
Mopane worms are a unique seasonal treat in Southern Africa, especially in Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa. They can be cooked in a sauce or stew or eaten dry and crunchy like potato chips.
There is no doubt that the mopane worm is a popular product. Mopane worm sales can total up to $85 million annually. People adore the worms because they are delicious and incredibly healthy, as they are rich in minerals, vitamins, good fats, crude protein, and amino acids.
The caterpillar of the emperor moth is what is known as the mopane worm. The worm is named for the mopane tree, whose leaves it consumes after hatching, which often occurs in the summer.
Before they are sold at neighbourhood markets, the worms are plucked from the trees, squeezed out, and dried.
5. Palm weevil larva
The palm weevil larva is a great favourite in West and Central Africa. These larvae develop from eggs deposited in the trunks of living palm trees by adult palm weevils.
This larva can be found on coconut trees, dates, and other sorts of palms in addition to oil palms, which are usually where they are most frequently linked.
Up to 70% of the African palm weevil larva’s weight is made up of fat. They don’t require additional oil because they are fried in their own fat. This makes these larvae one of the planet’s foods with the highest macronutrient energy density.
In Indonesia, Cambodia, and Thailand, palm weevil larva is also consumed in large quantities. In actuality, specialised farmers in these countries cultivate and sell palm weevil larva to satisfy the enormous demand.