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Insect Farming is helping Thailand’s Farmers

Thai Cricket Farming

A low, scuttling sound is audible from the six concrete pens in Boontham Puthachat’s home. He is a cricket farmer. His crickets are nibbling on a mix of chicken feed, pumpkins, and other vegetables to grow for the five weeks before they are harvested.

Boontham is a farmer in Thanon Nang Klan, one of Thailand’s poorest regions. Here, farmers depend solely on the rains to either yield a good rice crop or leave their fields dry and barren. But Boontham is different. His family is one of 30 in his village raising insects to satisfy the growing domestic demand (even through many international diners would rather starve than try a fried grasshopper).

Thailand Cricket Farm

“We haven’t become rich, but now we have enough to better take care of our families,” Boontham says proudly. “We are self-sufficient.”

Stories like these can be found across the country: today there are more than 20,000 registered insect farms, most of them small-scale household operations, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. This multimillion-dollar industry has emerged, averaging an annual output of 7,500 tons a year, making Thailand the leader in putting insects on dining tables.

Boontham is a farmer in Thanon Nang Klan, one of Thailand’s poorest regions. Here, farmers depend solely on the rains to either yield a good rice crop or leave their fields dry and barren. But Boontham is different. His family is one of 30 in his village raising insects to satisfy the growing domestic demand (even through many international diners would rather starve than try a fried grasshopper).

“We haven’t become rich, but now we have enough to better take care of our families,” Boontham says proudly. “We are self-sufficient.”

Stories like these can be found across the country: today there are more than 20,000 registered insect farms, most of them small-scale household operations, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. This multimillion-dollar industry has emerged, averaging an annual output of 7,500 tons a year, making Thailand the leader in putting insects on dining tables.

Insects don’t taste as the cultural biases would suggest. Words often used to describe insects are “nicely crisp and nutty”, “bacony”, and “mushroomy.”

Although a decade ago, insect eating was largely a gimmick – such as a bug embedded in a lollipop – experts say a recent increase in interest in the West is being driven by health and environmental concerns. (source: nydailynews)

Now we have energy bars made from ground up crickets, pop up shops serving insect delicacies, and even cookies are being made with cricket powder.

“When I was growing up in the United States, most people would turn up their noses at sushi. Now, it’s very chic. People’s eating habits do change, so who knows? In 10 to 15 years, eating insects may take off and be regarded as good and cool,” says Durst, whose favorites include fried wasp and some crickets with his beer. Creating such a buzz, he says, may involve a celebrity chef putting some palm weevil larvae or giant water bugs on a menu “with someone like Tom Hanks eating them. And then people will say, ‘If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.'” (source: nydailynews)

While it’s not clear that edible insects will solve hunger problems in parts of the world, they will definitely become important components of food security. Already in Laos and Ghana, projects are underway to combat malnutrition with insect farming.

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