HEALTHYNSECT Insect farming for health and livelihood

Project summary

Insects are recognized as some of the most promising alternative food sources that can shape future sustainable food systems by providing high-quality animal protein and nutrients with lower environmental impacts than conventional livestock. Production systems for insect species identified as suited for farming (namely crickets, grasshoppers and palm weevil larvae)
are currently under development in Africa, including in Kenya, Uganda and Ghana; however, knowledge about the impacts pathways from incentivizing and scaling up insect farming and
consumption to achieving development outcomes remains poorly understood, creating a barrier for the inclusion of insect production in policies for sustainable development. The overall aim of HEALTHYNSECT is to generate new knowledge for accelerating rural insect farming and insect consumption in Africa for improved nutrition, health, and livelihoods. The specific objectives are 1) to develop an evidence-based framework describing impact pathways from incentivizing insect farming and consumption to development outcomes; 2) to
conduct a multi-site factorial intervention study to identify and quantify pathways from incentivizing (1) insect consumption or (2) insect production (main effects) and the combined effects; 3) to assess the impacts of the consumption of insect-based food supplements on diets and young children’s health and nutrition; 4) to assess the impacts of accelerating small-scale insect farming on agriculture practices and household livelihoods; and 5) to support research capacity building and regional research collaboration on edible insects in sustainable food systems. The project consortium gathers leading and pioneering expertise in edible insect research in Africa. New knowledge generated across three different insect farming systems and agro-economic settings will markedly add value by enhancing the ability to generalize findings to entire Sub-Saharan Africa.

Outputs

First year report
The HEALTHYNSECT consortium was able to initiate the work in May 2020 despite the COVID19 outbreak affecting all countries and all partners involved. The project's start was postponed from April to May, 2020, and the project consortium then decided to initiate the project in view of the uncertaincy of when the pandemic would come to an end.
The kickoff meeting was held online, and subsequently, the project work was organized in online working groups around the work packages. In addition, we have monthly online status meetings. By the end of the first year (2020), the WP1 outline of the multi-site intervention protocol was in progress, led by UCPH and in close coordination with the partners. The partners in Kenya (MMUST, JOUST, JKUAT), Uganda (MAK), and Ghana (UENR) had successfully recruited the planned 5 Ph.D. students. The Ph.D. students are each working on seperate research projects which feeds into the overall multi-site intervention on drivers and barriers for small-scale rural insect farming in Africa.
The data collection for the multi-site intervention has been prepared in the REDcap platform. Online training of the partners to be responsible for the fieldwork has been conducted by icipe. The collaboration agreement was preparred among the consortium partners, led by UCPH, and signed in January 2021.
The main shortcoming in the project activities due to the pandemic was in the stakeholder interactions which was not possible to initiate.

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