In May 2013 the project Flying Food started in the Nyanza region in Kenya and the Masaka Region in Uganda to set up small scale insect rearing stations at farms. The number will gradually increase to hundreds of rearing stations. When crickets production exceeds consumption of farmers themselves, two commercial centers of farmer collectives will be set up .
They will process crickets to shelf stable products for the regular food chain thus reaching finally thousands of consumers. Cricket knowledge centers in Kenya and Uganda will guarantee knowledge transfer and stimulate further dissemination of cricket production for nutritious food for low income consumers and commercial processing centers, inside and outside Kenya and Uganda.
The crickets will be eaten whole, but also dried and grinded into a flour to serve as an ingredient for new food products, such as blend flour, cakes, samosas, meat balls etc.
The inclusive business model of the project allows people with the lowest income within the regions to be an actor (as producer, salesman or consumer). This enables them to benefit from the economic development while simultaneously increasing local food systems. The regional traditions of seasonal insect consumption will be supplemented with Dutch expertise on commercial rearing of insects. Combining forces will give cricket rearing in Kenya and Uganda a flying start.
At the end of the Flying Food project, hundreds of farmers will be rearing crickets, providing them with additional income. Processing centers will be set up and several hundred thousand servings of crickets will be bought annually by a large community of low income consumers. To achieve this, Flying Food focuses on five different areas:
- Processing and product development
- Value chain development
- Knowledge transfer
The focus of Flying Food is on a production system for small scale rearing of crickets and be able to produce safe and healthy crickets for food. The production system should be sustainable, cost effective and safe to run by farmers. Production will be tested in pilot farms and replicated in the upscaling phase of the project. To set up the rearing, a place for the crickets to grow, needs to be selected as well as the right feed and places for egg-laying. Furthermore, a timing schedule to separate crickets of different ages and to harvest at the right time needs to be in place.
Farmers who join the project receive a training with background on crickets and basic theoretic knowledge on rearing practice. In the training, there is plenty of time for hands-on experience. The trainers are experienced in education for adults. Once the farmers are rearing, trainers are visiting regularly to solve the arising problems. Furthermore, a learning alliance is set-up to share information.
The part on rearing is coordinated by Kreca Entofood. Other partners involved are VENIK, JOOUST, ADS and KBL.
2. Processing and product development
In between rearing and selling, some processing of the crickets will take place to increase shelf life and make the crickets more attractive to the customers. The easiest processing route is to blanch and subsequently dry the crickets. This will ensure a transportation and storage of crickets without decay and loss of quality. Partner MIXA builds solar dryers for an easy and sustainable way to dry the crickets. The dried crickets can be sold as such, after frying or after further processing. Processing will generate products like cricket flour (to be used in e.g. chapatis or irio cakes), cricket candies or cricket stew. In this work package shelf life using different conservation techniques is investigated, hygienic guidelines for processing are developed and (in close collaboration with the marketing work package) cricket recipes are developed and tested among the local population. The responsible partner for this work package is TNO in cooperation with VENIK, JOOUST and MIXA .
Although in Kenya and Uganda termites and grasshoppers are consumed when in season, crickets have not been eaten for some generations. To successfully introduce crickets for human consumption, market research is performed to develop a matching marketing strategy. Coordinator BoPInc and together with ADS, HAS, ICCO, TNO, and VENIK, investigates the market potential for crickets. Local market analysis, consumer surveys and identification of stakeholders play a central role. With this information, a marketing strategy as well as an optimal production and distribution network will be set up. Farmers and entrepreneurs will be supported in their marketing and business case and campaigns towards consumers are developed.
4. Value Chain Development
To make the cricket rearing and selling business work, a valid business case is needed. The Flying Food project aims at setting up the whole value chain from farmer to consumer. Co-creation workshops with stakeholders, farmers, processors, entrepreneurs, sellers and consumers are organised by ICCO-ROCEA, together with ADS, JOOUST, VENIK, BoPInc, HAS and TNO. An entrepreneural network is set-up with Flying Food knowledge centres in Kenya and Uganda.
These will anchor knowledge gained. The knowledge centres will provide information and procedures on rearing, processing and business development.
5. Monitoring and evaluation
The Flying Food project aims at hundreds of farmers rearing crickets in both Kenya and Uganda, realizing several hundred thousand servings of crickets per month for a large community of consumers. This is done gradually, starting with a limited number of farmers and incorporating their experiences in consecutive unrolling to larger numbers. In that respect it is very important to keep track on progress, production and experiences gained by the first farmers. Therefore, ICCO Netherlands, together with ADS, develops a monitoring and evaluation method. Another important aspect of this part of the project is the training modules. Trainings are developed for all parts of the value chain, to help all aspects get up to speed as efficiently as possible.