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Tropentag, September 20 - 22, 2017 in Bonn

"Future Agriculture: Social-ecological transitions and bio-cultural shifts"

Community Perceptions, Practices and Knowledge of Insects for Food in Kenya: A Case of Saturniidae

Elizabeth Kusia1,2, Sevgan Subramanian1, Christian Borgemeister2

1International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Plant Health Division, Kenya
2University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF), Ecology and Natural Resources Management, Germany


Edible insects form a natural and renewable source of food with about 1,900 insect species being eaten worldwide by over 2 billion people. Over 60% of edible insects in Africa belong to the order Lepidoptera, including saturniids. Despite consumption of saturniids in Kenya, documented information on the extent of consumption, perception and knowledge among communities in Kenya are lacking which is the focus of this study. It was carried out in 14 counties in Kenya, namely: Homabay, Siaya, Kakamega, Vihiga, Trans-Nzoia, Kilifi, Kwale, Machakos, Kitui, Nyeri, Meru, Taita, Makueni, and Laikipia. Semi-structured questionnaires were used to collect information from communities on knowledge, availability, consumption and potential for rearing of saturniids for sale and local consumption. Based on the feedbacks, we recorded the availability of seven saturniid species including Gonimbrasia zambesina, Naudarelia krucki, Bunaea alcinoe, Holocrina angulata, Imbrasia belina, Cirina forda and Epiphora bauhiniae. Among the respondents, more than 80% indicated that they have collected insects for food. Termites, grasshoppers, crickets, compost grubs, saturniids and lake flies were collected by 88, 28, 7, 3, 8 and 2% of the respondents, respectively. The Giriama people in Kilifi, coastal Kenya, were found to consume G. zambesina and N. krucki. In Kakamega, western Kenya, respondents >75 years of age indicated that they used to consume saturniids, while younger respondents refused to consume saturniids. However, more than 70% of the respondents expressed interested in mass rearing of saturniids for business to regions where they are already consumed. Some respondents were ready to taste saturniids if processed and packaged. Lack of rearing protocols, ready markets and community acceptance were perceived as challenges by 85, 71 and 10% of respondents, respectively. The main motivation for respondents to rear saturniids was to generate income. Enhanced awareness on the nutritional benefits of consuming saturniids, feasibility of mass rearing and opportunities for trade will be critical to mainstream saturniids among the edible insects in Kenya.

Keywords: Edible insects, mass rearing, saturniids

Contact Address: Elizabeth Kusia, International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Plant Health Division, P. O. Box 30772, 00100 Nairobi, Kenya, e-mail: ekusia@icipe.org

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