Edible insects are increasingly recognised as a source of nutritional security, poverty reduction and overall household wellbeing, particularly in rural sub-Saharan Africa. In Ghana, for instance, edible insects such as the African palm weevil larvae are integral part of traditional dishes, which are widely consumed among different strata of the Ghanaian society. Following the limited supply of these larvae from the traditional source, deliberate efforts at domestication are being promoted as an investment option in Ghana. This paper uses the case study approach based on data from a modern weevil larvae (akokono) micro-farm in the Ashanti region to analyse the financial viability of an insect-based business to guide future investment decisions. Standard capital budgeting tools such as net present value (NPV), benefit-cost ratio (BCR), internal rate of return (IRR) and payback period were employed to assess the financial viability of an akokono micro-farm of 5.47×7.62 m dimension. The results show that a capital expenditure of Gh₵ 5,333.17 (US$ 935.61) is required to establish the akokono micro-farm. With a five-year project life and cost of capital of 33.5%, the investment appraisal generates a positive NPV (Gh₵ 6,065.89 = US$ 1,164.3), BCR that is greater than unity (1.34), and an IRR (37%) which is above the current lending rate on the financial market in Ghana. The paper concludes that domestication of palm weevil larvae is financially viable at the micro-scale even in the face of pessimistic assumptions. These findings have practical implications for small-scale enterprise development in addressing problems of malnutrition and unemployment among vulnerable groups like women and youth in the rural economy of Ghana.
Larvae of black soldier fly (BSF), Hermetia illucens (L.1758) (Diptera: Stratiomyidae), are increasingly being used as animal feed ingredients. Larvae are usually produced by placing eggs, obtained from adult rearing on growing substrates but can also be obtained by exposing substrates to naturally occurring BSF females. In the latter system, the substrate needs not only to be nutritious for the larvae but also attractive to the females for oviposition. The ‘preference-performance principle’ suggests that female insects prefer to oviposit in substrates that maximise offspring fitness. In this study conducted in Ghana, six organic substrates known to be suitable for BSF production were evaluated for their suitability as oviposition attractants and larval development: pito mash (waste from a locally brewed sorghum drink), millet porridge mash, pig manure, chicken manure, fruit waste, and waste from roots and tubers. These were first exposed outdoors to measure the quantity of eggs laid on them by naturally occurring BSF females. In a second experiment, the quality of the substrates as larval rearing media was tested by placing a standard amount of young larvae to measure the individual and total weights of prepupae obtained, their number, and their development time. The nutritional profiles of both the prepupae and the substrates were determined. The substrate used significantly influenced the quantity of eggs laid and the development of the resulting prepupae, but the substrates most favourable for larval development were not the most favoured by gravid BSF for oviposition. In the oviposition tests, millet porridge mash was the most attractive substrate, whereas only a few eggs were recovered from the other substrates. All substrates allowed the successful development of larvae but pig manure was more productive than the others.
In Africa, food insecurity seems to be a continual problem as a result of various factors such as extreme poverty, water scarcity, land degradation, and climate change. As a result, chronic hunger and malnutrition are still prevalent in many African countries. Consequently, the utilization of available and affordable natural food sources is needed to accommodate the energy and nutritional requirements of the people, such as edible insects. Edible insects are abundant and locally available throughout Africa, hence could be utilized as low-cost, nutritious, and sustainable foods. Around 500 species have been recorded in sub-Saharan Africa out of the 2,100 known edible insect species worldwide. The consumption of insects, also known as entomophagy, has been historically practiced by indigenous people of Africa. To date, edible insects are seen in Africa as a good opportunity, particularly for rural households, to improve their livelihoods at an economic and nutritional level. Edible insects are a great source of energy and nutrients – and their rearing only requires a small amount of water, land and feeding resources. Entomophagy may also serve as an ecologically sound control measure for insect pests, such as locusts, that periodically wreak havoc on agricultural fields. The combination of being a highly nutritious food source and having economic advantages made edible insects very attractive in all the African regions. Their promotions into the diet would ameliorate the well-being of the population and boost economic growth in Africa. However, African countries need local and regional legal frameworks to achieve smooth functioning of marketing of edible insects and their products.