The University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark is leading a project dubbed HEALTHYSECT to generate new knowledge for accelerating rural insect farming and insect consumption in Africa for improved nutrition, health and livelihoods.
The project, which is being run in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda, is to develop an evidence-based framework describing impact pathways from incentivizing insect farming and consumption to development outcomes and to conduct a multi-site factorial intervention study to identify and quantify pathways from incentivizing insect consumption or insect production.
It is also to assess the impacts of the consumption of insect-based food supplements on diets and young children’s health and nutrition, assess the impacts of accelerating small-scale insect farming on agriculture practices and household livelihoods; and support research capacity building and regional research collaboration on edible insects in sustainable food systems.
Insects as food
Insects are recognized as some of the most promising alternative food sources that can shape future sustainable food systems by providing high-quality animal protein and nutrients with lower environmental impacts than conventional livestock.
Production systems for insect species identified as suited for farming (namely crickets, grasshoppers and palm weevil larvae) are currently under development in Africa, including in Kenya, Uganda and Ghana; however, knowledge about the impacts pathways from incentivizing and scaling up insect farming and consumption to achieving development outcomes remains poorly understood, creating a barrier for the inclusion of insect production in policies for sustainable development.
Partner institutions which are implementing the project are the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) in Sunyani, Ghana, the Makerere University Business School (MUBS), Uganda and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST), all in Kenya.
At a meeting with partners of the Healthysect project at his office in Sunyani, UENR Vice-Chancellor Professor Elvis Asare-Bediako noted that operationalisation of the healthynsect project in the rural areas of Ghana speaks to the key theme for Ghana’s Rural Economic Transformation Agenda enshrined in Government’s medium-term development policy framework for 2018-2021, which is “Agenda for Jobs: Creating Prosperity and Equal Opportunity for All.”
Opportunities for all
He said the HEALTHYNSECT project will serve as one of the platforms to achieve Government’s objective of creating opportunities for all Ghanaians, especially farmers and other players within the meat value chain.
“The University has had series of meetings with the principal investigator and School of Agriculture to discuss matters of mutual interest and the state of every project running on campus in general. We believe that this engagement is important if Government is to build an effective partnership with our institutions for higher learning for the mutual benefit of our countries and their targeted people.
“I look forward to a HEALTHYNSECT project that will be pivotal in improving our nutrition, livelihood and local meat industry. To all stakeholders represented here, there is an immense opportunity for you to make an impact in the rural economy by supporting our farmers through the provision of sustainable research,” Prof. Asare-Bediako said.