Eating crickets can end malnutrition in children

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Eating crickets can end malnutrition in children and ensure food security by boosting the nutritional value of food, a 2017 research conducted by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology has revealed.

"The high protein content in crickets can be utilized to solve the Protein-Energy-Malnutrition (PEM), a condition that is evident in children suffering from kwashiorkor and marasmus," said Koech, a GREEiNSECT Ph.D. scholarship beneficiary.

Currently, 3.5m children in Eastern Africa are suffering from malnutrition and in Kenya, 3.4m people are facing starvation as a result of prolonged drought early this year which affected food production in the country, according to a report released in October 2017 by Word Vision Kenya.

In this, cricket farming can play a critical role towards economic empowerment and food security in the country.

"Crickets offer a highly economical, sustainable solution to existing food and nutrition insecurity with the production and distribution of high-quality protein to meet growing demand," said Dr. John Kinyuru, JKUAT Cricket Project Principal Investigator

"I know that entomophagy (eating insects) irks some people but it is a high time we realize that insects are highly nutritious, and also far more environmentally friendly to raise than conventional livestock."

Indeed, in the study conducted by Carolyn Koech, a Ph.D. student in Food Science and Technology at JKUAT, she focused on the effectiveness of cricket based food on pre-school children in Cheptigit primary school, Uasin Gishu County.

From January to July, Koech provided over 120 nursery pupils with three kinds of porridge meals. One contained millet and maize, the other included millet, maize and milk, while the final porridge meal contained millet, maize and crickets.

Koech observed that the children that ate the porridge that contained crickets gained weight and their cognitive ability improved.

"Crickets have high protein content compared to soya beans and beef which are among the common conventional sources of proteins," said Koech.

One cricket can be sold for seven shillings in the Kenyan market, cricket flour is also available in some supermarkets in Nairobi. To order floor or cricket meat call Geoffrey at 0722200972 or JKUAT on 067-5870001 or 067-5870002.

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