Edible Insect Farming growing in Thailand

Edible Insect Farming growing in Thailand

Farmers in Thailand are raising mounds of the profitable crisp and crunchy critters in their backyards. Boontham Puthachat's family is one of the 30 in a village in northeastern Thailand who are involved in the business of farming edible insects. There are people who like to enjoy fried grasshoppers or omelets studded with red ant eggs.

It has become a multimillion-dollar industry with more than 20,000 registered farms. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), most of the farms are small-scale household operations. With an average annual output of 7,500 tons in recent years, Thailand has become the world leader in the production of insects for the dining table.

According to the FAO, human beings have been eating insects for a long time in nearly 100 countries, especially in Asia where over 1,600 species are consumed.

The use of insects for food and medicine in China began more than 5,000 years ago. Cockroach farming has seen a rapid growth in recent years, with some entrepreneurs making good money by selling dried cockroaches to companies that produce cosmetics and traditional medicines.

FAO said in a report in 2013 that insects are nutritious and their farming is a much easier task. Eating edible insects is similar to take a multivitamin, said Patrick B. Durst, a senior FAO official who co-authored a study on Thailand's edible insect industry.

"When I was growing up in the United States, most people would turn up their noses at sushi. Now, it's very chic. People's eating habits do change, so who knows? In 10 to 15 years, eating insects may take off and be regarded as good and cool", said Durst. Durst added that it would be too early to say if edible insects will completely rid hunger in parts of the world, but it is highly likely to become an important component of food security.

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