Save the lemurs, eat crickets


Valala Farms in Madagascar is encouraging the protection of natural forest and wildlife by farming edible nutritious crickets.

Rapid population growth and deforestation threaten food security on the island nation of Madagascar. More than 90% of Malagasy people live in poverty and undernutrition is rampant, particularly among children. As a result, families among other things hunt endangered and threatened species of lemurs for food. Valala Farms, an initiative under the Insects and People of the Southwest Indian Ocean working group, has come up with a unique way to protect wildlife and provide nutritious food to local communities. Building on the local tradition of consuming various species of insects in season, Valala Farms produces a steady supply of crickets year-round. These mini-livestock provide essential nutrients and have a low environmental footprint. Compared to livestock, like cows and pigs, crickets are more efficient at converting a wide range of organic waste products into nutritious food. The frass, insect manure, produced on the cricket farm provides a beneficial fertilizer that is applied to crops in the surrounding villages. This project not only has relevance for the people of the Southwest Indian Ocean region, but for other communities struggling to balance food security and natural resource use.