Improving smallholder farmers’ livelihoods and food security through insects for feed

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An insect rearing facility in Burkina Faso: Insects as a natural feed for livestock can help alleviate poverty and food insecurity

By Solomon Agyemang Duah, Communications Specialist at CABI based in Ghana

Poultry farming is practised by almost all smallholder farmers in West Africa but feed and in particular protein sources are becoming increasingly expensive thereby, affecting meat and egg production, reducing family incomes and, ultimately, putting food security at risk.

Fish farmers are suffering a similar problem. CABI as part of the Insects as Feed in West Africa (IFWA) initiative is promoting the use of insects, which are a natural food source for poultry and fish and endorsed by the FAO, as a tool to alleviate poverty and food insecurity.

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Safer food in Pakistan through Aflatoxin control

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Aflatoxin poses a series threat to food security, contaminating many of Pakistan’s agricultural products including cereal grains such as maize

By Dr Sabyan Faris Honey, CABI, and Deborah Hamilton, USDA

Aflatoxin, produced by a poisonous fungus, is a serious threat to food security by contaminating many of Pakistan’s agricultural products, including cereal grains, chilies, dry fruits and nuts, and milk. Indeed, the average contamination in wheat and maize in Pakistan, for example, is five and sixty times, respectively, the level permitted in the US.

The fungus responsible, Aspergillus flavus, can contaminate crops before and after harvest as well as contaminate animal products if infected feeds are given to livestock. Consumption of these toxins in high concentrations can contribute to stunting growth in children and cause liver disease with fatal consequences. Estimates of deaths due to aflatoxin ingestion range up to 100,000 or more per year worldwide.

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Grasshoppers v Orange Juice: insects have nearly as much antioxidant benefit as popular breakfast drink

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Crickets have 75 percent the antioxidant power of fresh orange juice, according to new study

By Mia MacGregor, CABI

A recent study by Professor Mauro Serafini from University of Teramo, Italy, revealed antioxidant levels in multiple, commercially available insects, which proved grasshoppers, silkworms and crickets to be the highest.

Found on every continent except for Antarctica, grasshoppers are a staple in the diets of animals all over the world such as birds, spiders, snakes, rodents and even other insects. However, after this study it is coming to light that these insects could be even more advantageous to the human diet than we had previously thought.

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Embracing change – how family farmers can face the future

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CABI CEO Dr Trevor Nicholls and Director General of CIMMYT Dr Martin Kropff share their expertise on family farming

This year opens the Decade of Family Farming, which aims to improve the life of family farmers around the world. In an earnest discussion, two leaders in the global agriculture community reflect on the challenges facing family farmers, the promises of high- and low-tech solutions, and their hopes for the future. A conversation between Dr Trevor Nicholls, CEO of CABI and Dr Martin Kropff, Director General of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), was published by Rural 21 – The International Journal for Rural Development on how family farmers can face the future. The men also propose six key investments needed to help family farmers thrive in the next decade as part of special report by the Economist magazine’s Food Sustainability Index.

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‘Women can be good leaders and science managers’

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Segenet Kelemu, the Director General of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe). Copyright: Photo supplied by Sida

In the week that the UN Decade of Family Farming was launched, Segenet Kelemu, the Director General of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), tells CABI’s sister organisation SciDev.Net that women can be good leaders and science managers.

In a candid interview, she reveals how she came from humble beginnings (having to run barefoot to school) to a position of power and influence in the field of agricultural science. Nominated by Bill Gates as one of five inspirational people around the world, Ms Kelemu goes onto describe her journey from rural Ethiopia to a position as head of one of the world’s leading agricultural research centres.

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“The warnings of impending doom are real but the timeframe is very much up for debate”

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Bananas are eaten the world over but could they really become extinct if a strain of Panama disease takes hold?

Did you know that more than 100 billion bananas are eaten every year in the world, making them the fourth most popular agricultural product? You might also be surprised to learn that Uganda has the highest average per capita consumption in the world, where residents eat an average of 226kgs of bananas per person per year.

In short, bananas are big business – a $35billion global industry as a rough estimate. But all that could come to a crashing halt if the headline in the British Daily Mail newspaper, predicting the fruit’s extinction, is to be believed. The fears are that a strain of Panama disease could wipe out the humble banana putting the food security of millions in Developing World countries that depend upon it for nutrition at risk.

CABI’s very own ‘banana man’ Dr Rob Reeder sheds expert light on the debate and argues that while the diseases is a concern it won’t spell the end of our beloved fruit just yet! Rob explains more…

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Fat cats – what can they tell us about human obesity, and vice versa?

It’s estimated that between a third and two thirds of pet cats are overweight, depending on the assessment method used. Cats suffer from obesity and diabetes mellitus in ways that are very similar to the obesity and type 2 diabetes found in humans. But can these similarities tell us anything useful about how to tackle these problems in cats or in humans?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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