Crickets are now raised in Songhai.
Only ten (10) in May 2016 as the experiment began, there are more than fifteen thousand (15 000) in August 2016 and this is still in the experimental phase. Songhai Crickets multiply at a very fast pace. They seem to have understood, perhaps better than the initiators of the insect farming (cultivation of insects for food) at Songhai, the importance and urgency of their production for human consumption in Benin. In Benin, more than one in three children suffer from chronic malnutrition and five out of hundred children suffer from acute malnutrition, according to surveys conducted in March 2014 by UNICEF Benin, the United Nations Children’s Fund.
The device to breed crickets in Songhai is simple. A well-covered hut, bins (fourteen in plastic and three in concrete), poultry egg trays, nesting boxes, bird feeders and tracking sheets. The breeding of crickets at Songhai is led by Marc Cadarsi, a food engineering student in Supagro in Montpellier (France). Member of the French Association Expert-Solidaires, partner to Songhai Centre, Marc is assisted in performing daily tasks at the ”insect farming” by Jacques, student farmer in Songhai currently specializing in insect farming.
Passionately, Marc explains the many benefits of breeding crickets. “A cricket can lay up to a thousand eggs that will give a ”baby cricket” each after hatching forty-five to fifty days later. “He said before addressing the issue of feeding of crickets. According to him, “in Songhai, water spinach, feed made with soybean meal and moringa powder, bread crumbs are used to feed crickets“. Based on artisanal or modern method, crickets are processed into flour (powder). Packaged in “bags, cricket flour is preserved for more than a year” says Marc. He noted that breeding crickets is not demanding; neither in terms of money nor in time. Compared to livestock and poultry farming, “the breeding of crickets is more ecological because crickets generate very little greenhouse gases and do not transmit disease to consumers, without forgetting that crickets, with fat low content, are less greedy in terms of food and water“, said Marc.
Highly concentrated in protein (70%), cricket flour is very strong in taste. This raises the problem of its distribution. It should not be a major concern according to Marc. He advocates a solution “mixing cricket flour with another food, another kid flour to facilitate its consumption by people“.
The breeding of crickets at Songhai is part of the project on Valorization of Insects through Feeding (VIA), an initiative of the French association Expert-Solidaires in partnership with Songhai Centre. According to Marc, the VIA project “was born from the observation that there are many malnourished children in Benin, because of the lack of meat and fish in their food“. It therefore aims at “fighting against child malnutrition in Benin” which even explains in simpler terms the title of the project: ‘’Grillons la malnutrition’’.
The project will continue with the expansion of the production and processing tools, both in Porto Novo and on the other Songhai sites in Benin.]]>