FAO Releases A Comprehensive Guide To Sustainable Cricket Farming
Consumer interest in edible insects has been rising in recent years and that has driven a traditional, but local, industry in Southeast Asia to expand to meet increasing global demand.
To ensure the rapidly increasing supply can adequately respond to international food safety concerns (and ensure sustainable practices), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with Thailand’s Khon Kaen University, has today published Guidance on sustainable cricket farming, a new comprehensive manual on rearing crickets. The publication aims to address knowledge gaps among cricket farmers and government agencies mandated for ensuring food safety and hygiene.
During the launch event, the lead authors Yupa Hanboonsong (Professor, Khon Kaen University) and Patrick Durst (former Senior Forestry Officer in FAO) explained how the manual could guide new start-up cricket farmers entering the business and could help them avoid errors.
“As a product, crickets are quite new for several consumers and to make these edible insects better acceptable, we need to ensure that they come from clean and safe sources. The cricket manual will help farmers in this,” said Lallalit Sukontarattanasook, a veterinarian and founder of a cricket farm in Thailand.
Setting the cricket standard
While cricket farming has developed rapidly, it has done so largely independently from government and institutional research support. The publication offers practical management tips to those already farming and presents a systematic framework to help inspectors monitor farming practices and ensure food safety and sustainability.
In Thailand, there were some 20 000 active cricket farmers in 2013, but most learned their farming practices through trial and error, with little science-based research or best practices to guide them.
“The guide will go a considerable way preventing new cricket farmers making avoidable mistakes in farm management while also safeguarding health and safety for end consumers,” said Thomas Hofer, Senior Forestry Officer in the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. “The guidance provided in this manual will help open up cricket rearing as an increasingly viable option for farmers around the world while setting standards for the practice, which requires less time, land and water than conventional livestock and generates a lighter environmental footprint,” he added.
Nutritious and sustainable source of food
“Crickets are nutritious and their farming is sustainable for the environment. It’s a win-win situation for the consumer and the planet,” said Sridhar Dharmapuri, Senior Food Safety and Nutrition Officer in the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. He noted the publication would help insect farmers and food safety inspectors to bridge knowledge gaps and provide a structure for effectively engaging with the industry, benefiting all stakeholders, including farmers, consumers, extension agents, academics, researchers, and students.
“The prospects of insect farming to contribute to diverse, healthy diets are huge, but guidance like this manual is essential to ensure rigour and safety,” said Sven Walter, FAO Leader of the Forest Products & Statistics Team, which published Edible insects: future prospects for food and feed in 2013.
Previous FAO publications in relation to edible insects have received considerable media coverage in recent years, including “Six-legged livestock: edible insect farming, collection and marketing in Thailand” and “Edible insects: future prospects for food and Feed.” The publications proposed that edible insects could contribute, in some way, to meeting the food, nutrition and feed needs of a growing world population.
“With the growing demand for meat and declining availability of agricultural land and water resources, there is an urgent need to find alternative protein sources,” said Katinka de Balogh, Senior Animal Production and Health Officer at the FAO regional office for Asia and the Pacific.