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Crickets rearing in Kenya gets boost from poultry farmers 

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Poultry farmer Antony Muhati keeps some 400 broilers in Kimalat in Kajiado County, on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital Nairobi.

To cut on costs, Muhati, like many other farmers in the East African nation, formulates his own feeds after buying ingredients that include maize germ, wheat bran, soya, cotton seed cake and until recently bone meal.

He mixes the ingredients to come up with a composite feed that enables his broilers gain the market weight, about 800g in a record one month.

Initially, he was sourcing bone meal, the animal protein from an abattoir in the region, but an outbreak of disease in his flock which was linked to the ingredient saw him stop.

“I switched to crickets, which I buy from a farmer who keeps them in this region,” he said on Monday.

“I have been using them for the last five months and the results are amazing because my broilers are maturing even faster and I have never experienced diseases like before,” said Muhati.

The move to use the house crickets as a source of proteins in making poultry and other livestock feeds by farmers has given a boost to the farming of the insects in the East African nation.

Farmers keeping crickets have found a ready market among those rearing poultry, who buy, dry and mill them to make a feed ingredient.

“I started keeping crickets eight months ago and I have a ready market that I am struggling to satisfy,” said George Kariuki, a crickets farmer in Kitengela, who supplies Muhati with the insects.

Kariuki noted that he has a population of some 50,000 crickets at a time having started with about 200 that he sourced from a farmer in Limuru, Kiambu, on the outskirts of Nairobi.

Kariuki observed that crickets have three stages of growth in their life cycle which are egg, nymph and the adult.

“They live for about eight weeks at most, meaning one can have up to three harvests in three months. Females lay some 150 eggs in her lifetime, which calls for one to provide a good environment for hatching and growth,” explained Kariuki.

The farmer who keeps the insects in boxes feeds them on vegetables and maize flour and water.

He sells up to 100 kilos in a good week with Kariuki having serving some six poultry farmers in the town.

In Kisumu, western Kenya, farmer Paul K’Ochieng belongs to a group that rears the insects supported by the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST).

He said that demand for the insects is rising especially from poultry farmers formulating their own feeds.

According to Monica Ayieko, professor of edible insects at JOOUST, who is popularizing the keeping of crickets in Kenya, crickets offer quality protein for both livestock and human consumption.

She noted that the insect are nutritious and can be used in the making of nutritious value added products like cakes and biscuits for humans to increase palatability.

There are a total of 561 farmers rearing the insects in groups in western Kenya, according to her.



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