By Ejidiah Wangui NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
When Jane Mbiriri’s granddaughter was diagnosed
with acute malnutrition six months ago, she had limited knowhow
on the best remedy for the condition and only wallowed in self
pity in her humble house located in rural central Kenya.
farmer was at wit’s end having no stable source of income to
afford a balanced diet for the granddaughter as recommended by
Mbiriri is currently
raising three of her grandchildren following the demise of her
only daughter one year ago.
However, her search
for an affordable and sustainable source of protein for her
granddaughter led her into discovering cricket flour which as
she puts it got her granddaughter’s growth curve back on track.
Scientists have in
the past cited crickets as a great source of protein compared to
soya beans and beef, which are among the conventional sources of
In Mbiriri’s case,
the insects, which are slowly finding their way into Kenyan
recipes, have proved their worth.
“At first when a
friend recommended cricket flour and promised to get me some
from her source in western Kenya, I almost turned down the offer
since I had never heard of it,” Mbiriri told Xinhua.”But my
options were limited. My dairy cows do not earn me enough to
afford the kind of food these children are supposed to eat.”
She has since
embraced cricket flour, which has immensely improved her
granddaughter’s health, and is contemplating on rearing the
“In our last visit
to the doctor one month ago, I was very happy with the results
as my grandchild has now gained weight unlike previous visits,”
“The cricket flour
is not as expensive as other flours and now that I have
established a relationship with the supplier, I get discounts
from time to time,” she said.
Initially she bought
the cricket flour from a farmer in western Kenya but she has now
established a new source not far from her home, where cricket
farming is gaining traction.
“I also plan to
venture into cricket farming, which from what I see is paying
more even than dairy farming as the crickets are not capital
intensive,” Mbiriri said.
She belongs to a
growing army of small holder farmers who have gradually embraced
Joseph Kairu took up
cricket farming recently. The cost of establishing a basic
system is about 30 U.S. dollars, in addition to the cost of the
initial breeding colony of crickets.
To start such a
colony, at least 200 crickets are required, and the colony
should not be used for feeding until well established and the
first babies mature into adults.
Kairu, who has a
bachelor’s degree in nutrition, saw a rising demand for cricket
flour as an alternative source of protein for people residing in
“I come across so
many cases of malnourished children. I realized there is a need
for alternative sources of protein after a recent assignment in
Turkana, where for every 10 babies that I attended to, more than
seven suffered from high protein-energy malnutrition,” Kairu
Even though most
Kenyans are still debating on whether to embrace alternative
eating habits, there are those like Mbiriri and Kairu doing it
and seeing the results.
“There is a group of
women in western Kenya who are already earning huge income from
cricket farming and that is where I got some of the tips on
cricket rearing,” Kairu said.
Members of the
group, made of 20 farmers, rear crickets each on their own but
market their products collectively.
One of their clients
is a leading hotel in Kisumu, the lakeside city in western
“This is where I
came across the different ways in which the crickets can be
prepared,” Kairu said.
According to Kairu,
a kilogram of crickets can sell for approximately five dollars.
“We are still far
from embracing such alternative sources of vital nutrients, but
with proper marketing and heath campaigns, I believe Kenyans
will respond positively,” said Kairu.