Science and technology
A team of four scientists at Makerere University are researching on breeding and rearing of grasshoppers locally called Nsenene with the hope of having mass breeding of the insect which is a delicacy in most parts of Uganda and East Africa.
A team of four scientists at Makerere University are conducting research on the possiblities of mass breeding and rearing of grasshoppers locally called Nsenene.
Led by Dr Jacob Agea from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences,Dr Dorothy Nakimbugwe from the School of Food Technology, Dr James Okwee-Acai from the Department of Veterinary Surgery and Reproduction and Dr Okello Acot from the School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences will over the next 18-months work on the 250 million shilling project supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr Agea, says the research is intended to improve nutrition and healthy growth of infants and children in Eastern Africa because grasshoppers are very rich in protein and minerals more than meat.
Dr Agea said if the research proves successful it will also have a huge multiplier effect especially for business people since it will become a mass food product classified as healthy foods.
The research, which is being conducted at a special laboratory at the university, has a number of scientific activities like collecting 10 pairs of female and male adult grasshoppers and acclimatizing them in specially designed cages for the purpose of rearing them under normal laboratory conditions.
Dr Agea said they will investigate a number of parameters like the number of eggs laid, the egg mortality, viability of the eggs, the rearing span and individual and average weight of the adult grasshoppers, among others.
He said if the breeding and rearing stage proves successful, the researchers will embark on mass breeding and rearing of grasshoppers and their value addition as nutritious food products.
Dr Agea explained that the grasshoppers would then be dried, ground into flour, mixed with other foods like cereals and packaged. They will also explore how well the grasshopper food products can be preserved and stored.
He said thereafter the breeding and rearing practice of grasshoppers will be replicated to the general public through training workshops throughout the country and the knowledge extended to the rest of Eastern Africa.
Dr Agea said they are upbeat about the research and hope that it will help in countering chronic malnutrition in children, mainstreaming grasshoppers in family dietary needs and contributing to the commercialization of grasshoppers.
He said grasshopper breeding and rearing is also environmentally friendly since it creates less damage to the environment, adding that grasshoppers are exceptionally efficient in converting what they eat into tissue that can be consumed by others.
grasshoppers breeding and rearing