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Producing crickets for food is viable in Burundi

14 Nov 2019

The Flying Food initiative promotes crickets as human food. After setting up a cricket value chain in Kenya and Uganda, other East African countries began to show interest. A feasibility study was recently performed in Burundi. The main conclusion is that Flying Food is technically and economically feasible. A market for cricket products exists and the business will improve food security and income generation for the most vulnerable groups.

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The results are positive

The Flying Food concept was tested in Kenya and Uganda over the past five years and is reproducible in other countries and regions. Three partners of Flying Food performed a feasibility study in Burundi and checked both the willingness of consumers to eat crickets and the interest of potential farmers, producers and processors in entering this new value chain. The results of this brief market study were positive:

  • Setting up Flying Food in Burundi will not be easy but is feasible.
  • There is certainly a drive and willingness among all of the required local actors.
  • More than 50% of the population in Burundi is chronically food-insecure and daily rations have low nutritional value (mainly carbohydrates). A clear need exists for animal protein and food sources containing micro-nutrients, which must also be affordable for people with the lowest incomes.
  • All 88 respondents had eaten insects before, mainly termites and grasshoppers. Crickets were largely unknown to them. Most consumers rated the fried crickets as tasty and nutritious.
  • A potential market exists for cricket products with acceptable prices;
  • A need exists for livelihood programmes and income generation activities;
  • Flying Food fits in with Burundian governmental programmes on food security and rural private sector development;
  • Most of the equipment required for cricket production is available or can be imported at reasonable costs;
  • The business environment in Burundi can be considered challenging, but the entrepreneurs we talked to know how to run a Burundian medium-sized business under difficult circumstances. They are looking for new opportunities and are willing to take risks and invest some of their own resources in innovation.

Approach

In this feasibility study, a checklist was used to gather information about the local context. Staff from Wageningen Food & Biobased Research (WFBR) and Fair & Sustainable Consultancy did an additional field study in Burundi. Freeze-dried house crickets were used for consumer testing, having been produced in the Netherlands by Kreca EntoFood B.V. In total, 88 respondents were interviewed: 26 in Bujumbura and 62 in Makamba. Most respondents were between 18 and 45 years of age, with female respondents making up 41%.

Technical challenges

Cricket production is largely influenced by temperature and feed. Temperature has the biggest effect on the growth speed of crickets. The ideal temperature for cricket growth lies around 30°C. Three Burundian provinces experience temperatures which should make cricket production possible. Lower temperatures will result in slower growth, which will then negatively affect the business case. Innovation is needed in order to develop low-cost, easy-to-use climate control technology.

Next steps

  • A stable market pull is essential when it comes to obtaining an economically-sustainable cricket value chain. We have to identify a retailer or cricket processor who is willing to launch cricket-derived food products on the market.
  • A Cricket Business Centre needs to be established, which will act as the future national orchestrator and booster of cricket value chain development. This will be the centre of the train-the-trainer approach and must be financially self-sustainable.
  • A low-cost and easy-to-use climate control technology has to be developed to keep the crickets in the production farms at a constant temperature of 30°C.
  • A combination of investment capital for entrepreneurs and grants for the coordination of this Flying Food initiative is required in order to start up.

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TNO innovates in developing and emerging countries. With technical know-how we develop and launch new products and services with a sustainable business model in the field of health, food, construction... Read more
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