Insects as Food and Feed for a Sustainable Circular Economy

Program Chair: Sundy Ekesi

Globally, insect farming (IF) is gaining recognition for its inherent ability to contribute to improving food and nutrition security and turning the current linear food economy into a circular and resilient food system. This technology requires limited natural resources (land, water), low investment and utilizes biowaste to produce protein-rich biomass for food and feed, in addition to generating insect-composted organic fertilizer for improved soil fertility and crop yield. Harnessing the potential of IF would mitigate pressure on finite natural resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create new business opportunities and jobs, reduce foreign currency exchange through importation of feed and fertilizer products, build resilient food systems and promote green economy. Presenters at the proposed symposium will exchange knowledge on recent research findings in IF, including opportunities and challenges faced by the sector.

Plenary Speakers

Insects as sustainable feed component: Value-chain approach in the light of Sustainable Development Goals
Current production of feed for livestock competes with food production for humans (e.g. cereals and soymeal) or relies on resources that threaten biodiversity (e.g. overfishing for fishmeal). For a novel circular and sustainable approach to feed production, insects provide excellent opportunities because various species can be reared on organic residual streams. In recent years, insect production for feed has been initiated and is used for aquaculture, poultry and pig feed. This new insect sector provides animal proteins through a sustainable production process, with low-value input, high-value output and low environmental impact. The large-scale production of insects as ‘mini-livestock’ can yield animal proteins of high nutritional quality via conversion of organic waste streams. Moreover, insect production has lower land and water requirements and much lower greenhouse gas output compared to traditional sources of animal protein. Insect production can, therefore, become an important component of a circular economy, by closing nutrient and energy cycles, fostering food security while minimizing climate change and biodiversity loss. Producing insects for feed is important for smallholder farmers and for larger scale farms. It can address many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals formulated by the United Nations, including SDGs 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 3 (good health and well-being), 12 (responsible consumption and production), 13 (climate action), 14 (life below water), 15 (life on land) and 16 (peace and justice). Here I will focus on the production of fly larvae for feed in Africa, South America and Europe and the environmental, social and societal consequences.

Professor Marcel Dicke
Laboratory of Entomology, Wageningen University
Wageningen, Netherlands

Marcel Dicke is professor of Entomology at Wageningen University, The Netherlands, where he graduated cum laude on a PhD on Infochemicals in Tritrophic Interactions. He is an elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and received various awards, including the NWO Spinoza award (2007, NWO), Eureka prize for science communication (2013, NWO), Rank Prize for Nutrition (2006, Trustees of Rank Prize Foundation, United Kingdom). He is member of several boards of international scientific journals, such as e-Life, Ecol. Entomol., Insect Sci., Entomol. Exp. Appl. and J. Chem. Ecol. He has been elected as highly cited by ISI/Clarivatics from 2009-2020. His publications have been cited more than 28,000 times and his h-index is 92 (WoS), In total 88 PhD students completed their thesis under his supervision; theses available at One of his research themes is Insects as Food and Feed. He coordinates several research project in this field and focuses his research both on fundamental aspects and societal implications in terms of i

The role of insects in a circular economy: An Africa perspective
In Africa, poultry, pig, and fish are fastest and most rapidly growing agricultural sectors. But these sectors are unable to realize their full potential due to the high cost of feed. Insects have been widely considered and accepted as an alternative protein for animal feeds. Optimal conditions for reliable insect production and traceability at commercial scale have been established with safe processing options addressed. Nutrient profiling of many insect species showed crude protein (CP) content ranging between 38 – 78%.  Livestock and fish fed diet with insect meal get ready to market size earlier, reducing cost of inputs and labor but increased profitability. Carcass quality of animal fed diet with insect meal showed similar or superior crude protein quality when compared to those fed conventional fish meal-based feeds. Inclusion of insect meal in broiler and layer diets resulted in significantly improve gut health. Field surveys showed that 65 - 85% of consumers are awareness and willing to pay for insect-based protein, while 70 and 93% of the respondents are willing to consume egg and meat products, respectively, from poultry fed diets with insect meal. Over 70% of the consumers are willingness to pay a premium prices range between 0.31 – 3.05 US$ for either pellets or mash feed explicitly labelled as containing insect meal. Insect-composted frass fertilizer is rich in sufficient nutrients to improve soil health, with great potential to increase yields of French beans, kale, tomato, and maize by 41, 34, 26, and 32%, respectively, compared to applying inorganic fertilizers alone under field conditions. Farmers would make between 29-44% higher net income in maize production compared to those depending existing organic and mineral fertilizer. Economic analysis revealed that adoption of 5-50% replacement of fish and soya bean meal by insect meal would generate a potential economic benefit, reducing poverty by 0.32-3.19 million people, increasing employment by 25,000-252,000 people, and recycling of 2-18 million tons of biowaste in Kenya. This would increase the availability of fish and maize that can feed 0.47-4.8 million people. Foreign currency savings would increase by reducing feed and inorganic fertilizer importation. Currently, over 1000 insect farms have been established in East Africa with first top ten producing approximately 9780 metric tons of dried protein annually (i.e., 7% of CP). These findings justify the expansion of gender sensitive business opportunities for future investments and new job creation by the national governments and public private sector partners in the continent.

Dr. Chrysantus Tanga
International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe)
Nairobi, Kenya

Chrysantus Mbi Tanga is a Senior Scientist and Head of the Insects for Food, Feed and Other Uses (INSEFF) at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Nairobi, Kenya. He has several years of wide-ranging experience in integrated pest management, insects for food and feed, value-added product development, youths and women empowerment through up-scaling and dissemination of innovative technologies, project management, policy development, food security and poverty alleviation, and technology transfer. His commitment in edible insect farming research as alternative protein for livestock and fish through a circular economy approach have been largely successful at several levels transforming and facilitating safe and equitable access and trade of edible insects globally. Tanga’s work on edible insects has received global recognition and awards such as the prestigious Curt Bergfors Food Planet Prize, 2020. Tanga has successfully been involved in many grant awards, establishment of global network of partners, collaborators, and stakeholders with diverse expertise in edible insects. He has supervised many MScs, PhDs, and postdoctoral fellows with his research findings being actively translated to the global audience through cross-cutting edge publications in various disciplines. He holds a PhD in Agricultural entomology and is an active member of the Entomological Society of America, and African Association of Insect Scientists (AAIS).

Evolution of the house cricket (Acheta domesticus) egg from oviposition to hatching
The house cricket (Acheta domesticus) is a nutrient-rich insect that can be mass-produced for food and feed. It could be an important link in the circular economy and frontier agriculture thereby contributing to sustainable food and nutrition security. Knowledge of the different developmental stages is crucial for successful mass rearing. This study investigated the evolution of the house cricket egg from oviposition to hatching. In this regard, 92 eggs were observed, measured, and described using a 3.5’’ LCD Digital Microscope connected to a computer provided with PortableCapture Pro software. Measurements were taken from day one to hatching. The egg length and width were measured and volume, egg aspect ratio were calculated. Decay of the chorion outer layer was observed on the 6th day and the translucent chorion reveals the outline of the embryo's eyes, showing bilateral symmetry on the 10th day. Metamerization, more advanced pigmentation and the presence of cerci were observed on the 12th day. The incubation time of this elongated egg was on the sixteen (16) day. During this period, the average length of the egg varies from 2.53 ± 0.10 mm to 3.32 ± 0.24 mm while the average width varies from 0.75 ± 0 mm to 0.99 ± 0. 04 mm. The egg volume varies from 0.66 ± 0.03 mm3 to 1.92 ± 0.23 mm3. The egg length, width, and volume slowly increase from 1 to 4 days. The increase was noted to be a little faster from 4 to 8 days before reaching a plateau until hatching. The egg aspect ratio varies from 3.38 ± 0.14 to 3.36 ± 0.24 throughout development. The results of the present study can form a basis for the successful mass rearing of this insect.

Dr. Bleu Gondo Douan
University Peleforo
Korhogo, Côte d'Ivoire

DOUAN Bleu Gondo was born on May 22, 1980, in Bantégouin, Côte d’Ivoire. He obtained a Scientific Baccalaureate in 2000 from the Grammar School of Man (Western Côte d’Ivoire) and a Diploma of General University Studies in Natural Sciences in 2003 from Abrogoua University, Abidjan. He obtained a Master's degree in Plant Protection and Environment in 2006 from the same university and a Diploma in Advanced Studies in Tropical Ecology from Félix Houphouët-Boigny University, Abidjan. He obtained a Ph.D. in Agricultural Entomology from Nangui Abrogoua University in 2014. Douan is currently a teacher and researcher at the Peleforo GON COULIBALY University of Korhogo, Côte d'Ivoire. His research has focused on breeding insects that could be mass-produced for food and feed within the circular economy. Douan is a African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) One Planet 2021 Fellowship laureate. Douan is also University Assistant Professor of the African and Malagasy Council of Higher Education since 2018. Douan is married to his wife Justine Sia with one child.

Want to learn more? See other content tagged with