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New standards in Kenya open doors for commercial insect-farming ventures

May 13, 2021
The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has approved new standards to support the development of insect-derived protein-rich food products for human consumption — a promising boost for insect farmers in Kenya.
Faith Nyamu Wamurango, a research officer with the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), at a black soldier fly demonstration and learning site in Kasarani, Kenya.
Brian Mwashi / icipe
Faith Nyamu Wamurango, a research officer with the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), at a black soldier fly demonstration and learning site in Kasarani, Kenya.

As part of its mission to pioneer global science in entomology, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) has been collaborating with IDRC to research the use of insects in feed for poultry, fish and pig production in Sub-Saharan Africa (INSFEED). Part of the project has been devoted to training more than 200 small enterprises and 6,000 farmers on rearing, feeding and commercializing insects. Now in its second phase, the project continues to test and review production scaling models and market opportunities for smallholder farmers in Kenya and Uganda.

Opportunities in commercializing insect farming

Dr Chrysantus Tanga, INSFEED project leader and icipe research scientist, explained that, with the development of the standards, “new opportunities have emerged to start the development of the insect value chain in order to harness the prospects across the entire chain that will allow producers, processors and suppliers, especially youth and women, to earn more income from insect farming,”

KEBS Food Standards Manager Peter Mutua called the new standards a milestone. “With this code of practice, insect farmers, harvesters and processing industries can now get accreditation and their products will be issued with a KEBS certificate enabling them to sell their products in the local markets and beyond the country” Mutua said.

Display of insect-based products and standard documents developed and published by KEBS.
Brian Mwashi / icipe
Display of insect-based products and standard documents developed and published by KEBS.

The value of insect farming: the big picture

Insect farming offers potential benefits for society at large. An icipe study in 2020 revealed that if 50% of the fish meal traditionally used in animal feeds were replaced with insects, there would be enough fish and maize to feed up to 4.8 million more people each year in Kenya. This shift could also enhance employment opportunities by creating 33,000 jobs every year, which could help reduce poverty for up to 3.2 million people. The study stated that the insects could recycle as much as 18 million tons of waste into frass fertilizer for crop production each year, enabling greener cities and helping to tackle pollution.

This project is part of the Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund (CultiAF), supported by IDRC and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.