1st Edible Insect Conference of Africa

1st Edible Insect Conference of Africa

Jeannine Malcolm2019-10-30Event

Africa was on my bucket list, but I wasn’t really expecting to get there. When I received an invitation to attend the 1st Edible Insect Conference of Africa from Dr. Robert Musindire of Chinhoyi University of Technology, it was an offer too good to refuse. Dr. Musindire and I were members of the Inaugural 'Insects as Food and Feed Summer School' at Wageningen University, Netherlands in 2018. He is a well-respected entomologist, researcher, and practitioner of insect farming in Zimbabwe.

The Cultural and Nutritional Significance of Insects in Africa

Africa has a long history of harvesting insects for food. Over 470 edible insects have been identified across sub-Saharan Africa. Despite this cultural connection, the adoption of insects into contemporary diets and/or livestock feed has been minimal, and the move to large-scale commercial farming almost non-existent. This conference was an important meeting of minds to understand why this might be so.

Over three days, approximately 300 attendees came together to "share knowledge on edible insects as well as current R&D, to consolidate efforts and bolster investments in this sector."

Conference Objectives

The objectives of the conference were many, including:

  • Providing a forum for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers in the edible insect sector to exchange ideas.
  • Showcasing innovative edible insect products to stimulate business opportunities among participants interested in insect farming.
  • Raising awareness among the media, government, and general public about the potential role of edible insects in supporting food security initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Presentation Highlights

Presentation topics included:

  • Research on the effect of mealworm larval meal on pre-boiler characteristics.
  • Opportunities and barriers to the commercialization of wild harvested edible insects.
  • Catalyzing insects for the animal feed sector in East Africa.
  • The use of insects as a dairy alternative.
  • Food safety awareness of insects among street food vendors.

Reflections and Realizations

What was most impressive was the generosity and humility of the participants and presenters. I was puzzled as to why the African Insect Industry was not a bigger player on the global stage (with the exception of Agriprotein in South Africa)? There was certainly no shortage of technical knowledge, critical thinking, resourcefulness, or availability of expertise. So, what then?

After several discussions, a few reasons became clear as to why Africa is not a world leader in insects as food and feed:

  • Geographical and Cultural Isolation: Despite many Africans being educated and employed overseas, their inclusion in international forums appears to be relatively low.
  • Limited Resources: This includes basic resources such as building materials, as well as distribution and logistics due to poor infrastructure.
  • Lack of Investment: Other than via NGOs, capital investment in new ventures is extremely difficult to secure in many African countries.
  • Lack of Government Support: Many commented on the lack of interest by governments to adopt legislative changes that would enable the insect farming sector to develop.

Sadly, despite the wealth of technical expertise and enthusiasm, many initiatives in this field have been confined to small, community-based, subsistence insect farming; certainly not reaching the potential that Africa has to become a world leader in the sector. One of the key outcomes of this conference was the establishment of working groups to continue promoting and delivering training and expertise in different aspects of the insect sector e.g., cricket farming, safe food handling, policies, and procedures.

Gratitude and Looking Forward

I feel extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to attend this conference. I have made life-long friends and professional supporters who will help my own business back in Australia grow. In return, I hope to give back to the contacts and colleagues that I have made. I strongly believe that we all gain by working together and giving back when we can.


The conference was the product of support from the following organizations:

  • AgriFose2030 - Agriculture for Food Security 2030
  • Chinhoyi University of Technology
  • Association Des Femmes D’Affaires Du Congo (AFAC)
  • Jeramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST)
  • Lund University
  • SEI – Stockholm Environment Institute
  • SLU – Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • University of Gothenburg
  • Journal for Insects as Food and Feed
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