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AgriFoSe2030 Change Stories

Improving the value chain for edible insects in Zimbabwe through increased production and trade

Temporal insect aggregation point in Gwanda District. Photo Credit: Robert Musundire

The world’s population is expected to reach 8.6 billion by the year 2030 and this requires increasing food supply to meet expected demands. In 2022, FAO estimated that 827 million people are affected by hunger and malnutrition while 2.3 billion people are food insecure. Many stakeholders have stressed the need for alternative food and nutrition sources, including edible insects, that have the capacity to transform global and domestic food systems. Edible insects are considered as an alternative protein source that can help reduce food security concerns while also serving as a sustainable source of income.

In view of this, AgriFoSe2030’s edible insects production and trade project led by partners from Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe,  has encouraged the creation of formal insect markets and increased the trade of safe and nutritious edible insects by more than 3000 women and youth in Zimbabwe. The edible insects value chain is reported to be worth more than US$ 3.2 billion and it serves as a source of protein, micronutrients, amino acids and antioxidants for over 2 billion people across the world. In Zimbabwe, edible insects including mopane worms, termites, crickets and grasshoppers have been a prominent aspect of local diets for generations however, their value as marketable products is low with weak product value chains.

The potential contributions of edible insects to improving food security, is a core aspect of challenge 1 of the AgriFoSe2030 programme which aims to translate scientific evidence into policy and practice through improving access to safe and nutritious food. By engaging multiple stakeholders including local governments, food safety and standards authorities, forestry commission, insect collectors and insect traders, the project builds the capacity of actors within the edible insects value chain and supports the development of formalised insect markets. The project spans across two insect harvesting districts; Gwanda and Lupane districts and one marketing centre in Chinhoyi Municipality.

Stakeholder engagement and support for the development of edible insect value chains

With support from local government actors in the Chinhoyi Municipality, an edible insect market was established in Chinhoyi in 2019. The market was built on a land station donated by Chinhoyi Municipality while the AgriFoSe2030 programme provided technical advise and funding for the construction. The market includes secure vending stalls for storing insect consignments. The secure storage environment contributes to reducing insect traders’ logistics needs and the risk of product contamination while simultaneously boosting their trade.

While stressing the centrality of collaborations and capacity development to the maintainance of edible insect value chains, the project trained insect collectors and traders on food safety and best practices for insect handling. Further support was provided by AgriFoSe researchers for the establishment of an insect collectors’ association comprising 150 members to coordinate insect trade and ensure sustainable harvesting. The insect collectors’ association provides an opportunity for local government actors to facilitate governance of insect trade.

Building in light green, Africa.Front View of Chinhoyi Insect Market. Photo Credit: Robert Musundire

Realising the challenges of high retail costs and price volatilities attributable to irregular supplies and the activities of middlemen, the project jointly developed a framework with stakeholders to facilitate the direct supply of insects from collectors to Chinhoyi market. This effort was further supported by the training and creation of a new task force mandated to manage temporal insect aggregation points and work towards the establishment of formal aggregation centers in Gwanda and Lupane districts. These aggregation centers allow for improved coordination among insect collectors and traders and provides opportunities for skills and knowledge sharing.

The task force is also equipped to advise on construction requirements for insect markets, mobilisation of insect transporters and in collaboration with the forestry commission of Zimbabwe, establish a procedure for application for insect shipment permits. Shipment permits will enable edible insects to be transported at low cost through formal market routes while ensuring traceability which contributes to food safety.

Through continuous stakeholder engagement, the project has drawn the attention of local authorities in Lupane, Chinhoyi and Gwanda districts to the potential economic and nutritional value of edible insects. This has led to invitations of AgriFoSe project leaders by Gwanda Rural District Council to advise on planned procedures and strategies to harness maximum gains from the collection and trade of edible insects. The meeting resulted in the Gwanda Municipal Council offering a piece of land for the development of a model insect aggregation center to complement existing aggregation efforts by the project participants. The AgriFoSe project team supports this initiative through identification of a suitable site, design of the aggregation center and mobilization of the local community to contribute resources and create awareness towards the establishment of the aggregation center.

Looking to the future

Market demands for edible insects are expected to grow concurrently with United Nations-led efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions and decrease hunger and malnutrition across the world. In strategically positioning insect collectors and traders to benefit from the expected growth in insect trade, the project plans to map progress on the establishment of insect aggregation centres and the changes in insect trade volumes between Gwanda and Lupane districts and Chinhoyi market. Further plans are underway to build local capacities for insect farming while also introducing and mapping the potential and impact of digital insect marketing platforms. Ultimately, the project emphasises the creation and sustenance of a viable insect value chain that incorporates women and youth actors and also provides the opportunity for stakeholders to contribute to edible insect policy and practice in Zimbabwe.

Elisabeth RajalaElisabeth Rajala, DVM, PhD

Challenge leader of Challenge 1
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Veterinary Public Health, SLU
Telephone: +46 18-67 20 36, +46 73-801 33 56
E-mail: Elisabeth.Rajala@slu.se

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  Fredrik Fernqvist, Senior Lecturer 

 Assistant Challenge leader for Challenge 1, AgriFoSe2030
 Department of People and Society, SLU
 Telephone: +46 (0)404-153 88
 E-mail: fredrik.fernqvist@slu.se

 Selorm Kobla Kugbega, Dr

 Acting Communications lead AgriFoSe2030
 SEI, Stockholm Environment Instittue
 Phone: +46 (0)73- 27 04 306
 E-mail: selorm.kugbega@sei.org

Published: 13 February 2023 - Page editor: agrifose@slu.se
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