Cockroach Farming: Making Millions From Africa’s New Oil

By Prudence Minayo

Most people will try to find the most effective way to eliminate cockroaches when they invade their houses. Interestingly, and unbeknownst to most people, roaches are a delicacy in a number of African countries. The emerging insect farming industry in the continent is projected to be worth $8 billion by 2030.

About 850 farms in Africa are practicing insect farming. 18 edible insect species have been found to be viable for farming, such as crickets, termites, grasshoppers and now cockroaches. While people have eaten insects for hundreds of years, farming them is a relatively new concept. If scaled up correctly, insect farming is likely to provide employment for a lot of people including women and youth. 

Daniel Rwehura- the pioneer cockroach farmer 

In Tanzania, Daniel Rwehura is a pioneer in cockroach breeding. When others see cockroaches they think of dirty, nasty creatures, he sees a pot of gold. Through selling cockroaches, he has been able to make enough money to live comfortably.

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In his own words, this is a very affordable type of farming as it requires little cash and can be done anywhere. He gets a lot of customers from poultry and fish farmers and a number of customers who want to buy cockroaches for consumption.  

“Cockroach farming is very very cheap more than other farming because that’s why I encourage even youths instead of staying at home jobless, take care of this project at their home because you can do it at you home you can do this at the village, you need only this cage,” he said in an interview with DW. 

The market continuously grows even as research institutions buy the insects for research purposes. For each kilo, he gets 5 Euros. The business is good and eco friendly and he doesn’t think he will abandon it. He has gained the support of the government, consumers and universities to produce cockroach protein in the country. 

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Another farmer named Lucius Kawogo claims to have made a fortune from roaches. He says he gets enquiries even from outside Tanzania from people who want to buy from him. Lusius Kawogo said in the beginning people thought he was mad but at the moment he makes enough money out of them. He also wishes that there were more people interested in cockroach farming so they would be able to supply in large quantities. 

Both farmers agree that cockroaches are easy to rear since the food they require is waste. 

An expert at Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam says roaches have a lot of nutritional value if farmed in the right way. A nutritionist called Scolastica Mlinga also told BBC Swahili that they are high in proteins, fats, Vitamin B12 and Zinc which help to boost immunity. 

In China, some farmers have been breeding cockroaches for quite sometime and others have made a fortune out of it. Apart from using it as an organic meal to poultry farmers, it is also used in their pharmaceutical and beauty industries. 

More about insects 

According to a report compiled by the World Bank, insect farming could produce enough feeds to meet up to 14% of the crude protein needed to rear all pigs, goats, fish and poultry in Africa. Due to scarcity of water, arable land and high ecological effects, existing food systems are also becoming continuously unsustainable. This has led to the interest in the use of insects for food and animal feeds. 

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A lead economist at the World Bank says it is possible to feed all people with nutrients rich insects and decrease the environmental impact of food and agriculture. Since 2014, food production per capita has been on the decline. 

Some foods that can be fortified with insects-rich proteins include: crackers, samosa, cookies and chapati. Research done by ELSEVIER shows 75% of farmers were willing to adopt this technology.