The Flying Food initiative creates access to affordable proteins and livelihood, by setting up an inclusive value chain on crickets for human consumption in Africa. Crickets are tasty, affordable and very nutritious: they have a very high protein content and contain essential micro-nutrients. Moreover, cricket rearing is easy, and requires minimum space and effort but has high returns. Flying Food is initiated by a Dutch consortium between Wageningen University & Research, Kreca Ltd, NGN Ltd and ICCO. They started the project in 2015 with the establishment of a new sustainable value network for crickets in Uganda and Kenya, with a sound business model. In these areas, crickets are sold as a snack, either fried or dried, and as powder for porridge, bread, and cookies. The supply chain starts with smallholder, medium-sized, and large farmers that rear crickets for own consumption and sell the surplus to neighbors or food processors.
Flying Food’s value proposition is twofold: first, they want to give access to affordable protein and micronutrients to reduce malnutrition. And second, they want to increase innovation and entrepreneurship by boosting farmers’ production and thereby increase their sources of income. Hereby, they seek to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 ‘No Poverty’, 2 ‘No Hunger,’ and 8 ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth.’ Moreover, Flying Food pays particular attention to the involvement of women and youth in cricket farming, which in line with SDG 5 ‘Gender Equality’. Finally, Flying Food also operates in line with SDG 13 ‘Climate Action,’ as cricket rearing is an environmentally friendly way to achieve the former mentioned social goals.
In 2018, 700 farmers were trained and 350 smallholder farmers started with cricket rearing as a side activity, earning an annual extra income of 50%. Unfortunately, in the final stage of the project period, at the end of 2018, farmers faced a disease outbreak which killed most of the crickets. This is quite usual in livestock farming, but it affected this early-stage value network immensely: while the disease was overcome, only 120 farmers restarted their cricket business. In addition to this disease, the cricket business is an innovative concept with a new product in a new market, and thus the value network had to be built from scratch. Together, this causes the Flying Food consortium to face some challenges. First, the project period of 3.5 years was too short to build a ‘star case’, ready for application and scaling. Moreover, it has been challenging to find funding to continue the project due to the disease and the innovativeness of the concept. With the lessons learned, the Flying Food initiative developed a new approach to rear crickets sustainably, and it is working on a collaborative business model. The ambition is to first strengthen the value network in Kenya and Uganda, and second to scale to Rwanda.
You can find more information about the Flying Food project here.