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A vibrant edible insects-based food system for healthy humans, livestock, plants and environment in Kampala, Uganda by 2050

Establish a circular food system on insect as food and feed, while using insects to sustain crop/animal production and environmental health.

Photo of James Peter Egonyu
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Researcher Institution

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Not applicable

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Great Kampala Metropolitan Area

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

I, Dr James Perter Egonyu, am a scientist on insects for food and feed at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe). I am a Ugandan and I have lived in Kampala for two decades. The Great Kampala Metropolitan Area (GKMA) which comprises Uganda’s capital city Kampala (189 km2) and its surrounding districts of Mukono, Wakiso and Mpigi (total area of 7,335 km2) is renowned for its rich culture of consuming and trading in longhorned grasshoppers (Ruspolia differens), locally known as nsenene. I enjoy this delicious grasshopper and several other edible insects, which drives my passion on promoting insects as food and feed to transform the food system in GKMA.

 Unfortunately, nsenene swarms in GKMA are seasonal and are dwindling overtime. GKMA also grapples with increasing demand for animal proteins, whose production is challenged by rising costs of feeds and dwindling sources of feed protein such as fishmeal; decreasing crop yields and huge amounts of waste. To address these challenges, icipe has partnered with key actors in the edible insects value chain in GKMA such as Makerere University, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards and the private sector to develop technologies and supportive policies for transformation of the food system in the area based on edible insects. icipe has developed technologies not only for promoting consumption of insects such as nsenene by humans, but also using insects  such as the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae to recycle biowaste into low-cost poultry, fish and pig feeds, and quality biofertilizer for increased crop yields. This promotes circularity in the food system. icipe’s long-term vision is to establish a vibrant edible insect-based food system for healthy humans, livestock, plants and environment in Africa. Therefore, GKMA with the above highlighted constraints and opportunities has been selected as a perfect model area to pilot this vision.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

GKMA lies at 900-1,400 metres above sea level, with temperatures ranging from 11°C to 33°C and bimodal rainfall (March-May and September-November) of 1,320 mm annually. Key landmark features in GKMA are: (i) Lake Victoria (the largest lake in Africa), (ii) several flat-topped hills, (iii) evergreen vegetation, (iv) the equator and (v) cultural sites–notably the Kasubi tombs (burial grounds for the Baganda royal family), which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are about 50 ethnic groups in Uganda, dominated by Baganda, Banyankore, Basoga, Bakiga, Iteso, Langi, Bagisu, Acholi and Lugbara. Representatives of all these ethnic groups and several foreign nationals live in GKMA. Luganda is the most spoken local language, and English is the official language.

Kampala city is dominated by commercial activities, and inhabitants of its outskirts engage in agriculture like their rural counterparts where 75% of agricultural households grow crops and 58% rear livestock. The city provides ready market for agricultural produce from its outskirts. GKMA has a diversity of animal-based food like beef, chicken, pork and fish (both wild and farmed); and mixed staple crops like banana, maize, beans, peanut, cassava and sweet potato. Several fruits (e.g., watermelon, pawpaw and pineapple) and vegetables (e.g., amaranth, cabbage, tomato and African eggplant) are dominant in GKMA. Coffee is a major cash crop in the area. Current efforts on increasing agricultural production to meet the demand for food and feed in GKMA focus on high-input, resource-intensive farming, which causes massive deforestation, water scarcities, soil nutrient depletion and high ecological footprints.

 Nsenene consumption has a long history in GKMA. Nsenene swarming seasons boom with activities such as: (i) trapping the insects with powerful electric lights attached to slanting silver iron sheets which slide the insect into collection barrels; (ii) hand-picking of nsenene in the bushes and near the traps especially by women, youth and children; (iii) transporting nsenene in sacks on vehicles from trapping locations outside GKMA; and (iv) processing nsenene before selling the fresh insects in markets/streets for the public to pick-up to go and prepare at home. Fried ready-to-eat nsenene that are irresistibly purchased and consumed by most passers-by are also sold. Whereas the nsenene bonanza is such an important economic activity that provides food, employment and incomes to people in GKMA, its seasonality and dwindling wild harvests necessitate innovation of technologies for sustainable mass production of the insect. The bulging population which is associated with destruction of natural ecosystems, rural urban migration and environmental pollution, coupled with climate change and variability do not assure sustainable supply of food in GKMA by 2050. A paradigm shift away from reliance on traditional food production systems is therefore urgently needed in GKMA.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Current challenges

Rapid population growth coupled with increasing demand for food and employment is a key challenge in GKMA. GKMA was home to 4.4 million people in 2014, approximating 13% of Uganda’s population which grows at over 3% annually. About 57% of youth in GKMA are unemployed; and 57% of micro-enterprises are informal with 93% of them earning below the poverty line of US$ 1.9/day.

Currently only nsenene is a popular edible insect in GKMA yet there are other shunned nutritious insects such as crickets, termites and palm weevils that are safe for human consumption. Further, nsenene supply is dwindling due to aggressive harvests, destruction of breeding habitats and negative impacts of climate change on its bioecology. Most of the alternative edible insects are crop pests therefore they are indiscriminately controlled using hazardous insecticides, yet they could be safely trapped/farmed for food. The traditional nsenene trapping technique uses high pressure mercury bulbs which consume a lot of electricity, cause irritation to human skin and eyes, and release mercury to the food chain causing harmful effects on the digestive and nervous systems of animals in the food chain. Techniques for sustainable trapping and mass rearing of nsenene to break reliance on wild harvests are highly needed.

GKMA produces 0.5 million tons of waste annually, which is forecast to increase by 2-fold by 2040. This waste is unfortunately disposed of in landfills near human residences, compromising public health. Insects such as black soldier fly larvae can recycle waste in a circular food systems paradigm into affordable biofertilizer for increased crop production and quality insect-based animal feed protein additive for poultry, fish and pig farming, which are among the fastest growing agri-businesses in GKMA. Feeds account for 60-70% of poultry, fish and pig production costs. The protein feed additives such as fish are not only expensive but are also good sources of human food. The use of insect in waste recycling is however not yet well exploited in GKMA.

Apart from the recently gazetted Insects for Feed Standard, policies that support use of edible insects in transformation of food systems in Uganda are scarce. A land-scape insect-based food system with supportive policies and interlinkages among value chain actors for one-health across humans, livestock, plants and environment is highly desirable in GKMA.

2050 challenges  

Transformation of the food system by 2050 as proposed in this vision may cause undesirable impacts such as erosion of food diversity, cultural norms, ecological imbalances and high energy use in insect mass production. 

The vision may also not address natural disasters such as water scarcity, droughts, floods, high temperatures and landslides resulting from a complex of changing global process.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

The Food and Agricultural Organization and other global experts have recognized edible insects as a viable alternative source of food and feed which are comparable or richer in protein, fat, energy, essential amino acids, flavonoids, minerals, and vitamins. Insect farming also requires less water, feed, land, capital and labor, and produces low ecological footprints compared to conventional livestock and plant-based feed proteins.

Farming insects for low cost protein for poultry, fish and pig farming can greatly reduce the cost of animal feeds hence increasing profitability of these small and medium-sized enterprises which provide employment to many youth and women in GKMA. This would also ease competition for fish and plant protein between humans and the animal industry. Farming insects that recycle organic waste into nutritious high-quality protein and fat-based biomass will be an ideal sustainable means of managing huge quantities of waste generated in GKMA. Moreover, the insects will also convert the waste into cheap and quality biofertilizer for increased crop production, hence preventing losses of nutrients as proposed in a completely circular food system.

Farming nsenene and other edible insects will reduce reliance on wild seasonal and dwindling population of the insects and overharvesting of the wild populations, lessening the pressure on their bioecology. Besides insect farming, the envisioned food system involves developing sustainable ways of trapping insects such as crickets, termites, palm weevils and locusts that are destructive to crops for use as food and feed. This will offer dual benefits of the insects as a source of food and feed; while increasing crop production through protecting them from damages by pestiferous edible insects.

The proposed edible insects-based food system is envisaged to serve as a land-scape system that impacts on the health of humans, livestock, plants and environment; and its value chain actors hence holistically addressing the food and nutritional security situation in GKMA in a cyclic and sustainable manner. This vision will promote engagement of all actors in the food value chains and support formulation of policies that promote integration of edible insects in the food system in GKMA.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

By 2050, GKMA will have: (i) insect-farming training facilities; (ii) insect-based entrepreneurships like food and feed processing plants; and traders of insect based products; (iii) aquaculture, piggery and poultry farms that thrive on affordable insect-based feed; (iv) a thriving crop production sector supplied with high quality affordable biofertilizer from insect-recycled biowaste, and protected from pestiferous edible insects through trapping; and (v) skilled and knowledgeable main actors in the edible insects value chains.

The impacts of these will include: (a) sustainable supply of adequate food and feed; (b) more profitable livestock, poultry and fish enterprises due to use of low-cost insect-based feeds; (c) zero unemployment; (d) no person living below the poverty line; (e) reduced pressure on natural resources such as land, water, feed and wild edible insects through insect farming; (f) broader range of insects consumed in GKMA; (g) reduced contribution of GKMA inhabitants to global warming; (h) zero use of fish and plant protein in animal feed; (i) GKMA waste efficiently recycled into affordable nutritious animal feed and biofertilizer for increased crop production. The crops will also be protected from destructive edible insects such as termites, palm weevils and locusts as they are trapped for use as food and feed; (j) a biowaste-free GKMA, reducing incidences of infectious and pollution related human diseases; (k) strong linkages in the food system and engagements among different actors such as insect, livestock and crop farmers, food and feed processors, the business community, regulators, researchers, consumers and others. This will result into joint responsibility for the sustainability of edible insects-based value chains; and (l) policies that support value chains of edible insects will be widely developed and implemented in GKMA.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?


Food systems in GKMA are currently unsustainable largely due to the rapidly increasing population, climate change and variability, poor food production technologies, unfavorable cultural norms, weak policy frameworks and weak private-public partnerships. A significant transformation in food production systems is required to sustain the increasing demand for nutritious food, employment and incomes by the people in GKMA. Circular food systems which improve resource-use efficiency while reducing wastage of resources are increasingly globally advocated for. In a circular food system, arable land is primarily used for food production; biomass unsuited for direct human consumption is recycled as animal feed; and by-products and manure are used to maintain soil fertility. In this way, nutrients are recycled by animals while sustainably feeding the future population. Waste degrading edible insects such as the black soldier fly are ideal for advancement of food systems circularity. Closing of nutrient loops requires building interactions among components of the food system such as rural settings (for food production) and urban areas (to provide market for the food and to generate most of the waste that should be recycled and channeled to the farmers in rural/peri-urban areas as biofertilizer). In our vision, efficient use of nutrients shall be achieved through interlinking waste degrading insects such as black soldier (to recycle waste and produce low cost animal feed protein additives), livestock (to consume insect-based feeds), and plants (to take up insect-recycled biofertilizer).

Farming and sustainable trapping of edible insects have the potential to greatly transform GKMA food system because of their highly nutritious biomass which can be produced with less resources such as water, feed, land, capital and labor. Farming edible insects also generates low amounts of greenhouse gases than production of conventional animal and crop foods and feed. icipe has initiated partnerships with key actors in the edible insects value chains in GKMA to develop technologies for mass rearing of nsenene and other edible insects such as crickets and palm weevils; document nutritional profiles of edible insects; standardize their safe processing, post-harvest handling and packaging technologies; and support development of standards for use of insects as human food. Through this partnership, icipe has also developed low-cost poultry, fish and pig feed formulations based on the black soldier fly to alleviate constraints of exorbitant animal feed prices in GKMA. icipe’s technologies on the use of the black soldier fly as a protein additive in animal feed have reached advanced stages required for promotion and scaling for impact. The outcomes have led to the development of the first Feed Standards in Uganda (the first of its kind in Africa) which allows the use of insects as protein additives in compounded animal feeds in GKMA. These achievements have created enormous interest among young entrepreneurs, with some early-adopters already engaged in commercialization of insect-based feed and food products in GKMA, hence providing job opportunities and improved standards of living, especially among women and youth. With these developments, there is an urgent need to scale technologies on value chains of edible insects among GKMA communities, through awareness creation, entrepreneurship capacity building especially, field testing of insect-based food and feed products, strengthening stakeholders’ involvement and creating market linkages for sustainability and improved livelihoods of the people.

Against this backdrop, a vibrant edible insects-based food system for healthy humans, livestock, plants and environment in GKMA by 2050 is hereby proposed with the following goal, purpose, objectives, outputs and work packages:

Goal: To ensure sustainable supply of adequate nutritious food, employment and incomes for the people of GKMA by 2050.

Purpose: To establish a vibrant sustainable edible insects-based food system in GKMA that provides adequate edible insects for food and feed, animal products from insect-based feed and crop produce from insect-recycled biowaste.

Specific objectives:

  • create public awareness and mobilize stakeholders for partnership and policy formulation to support edible insects-based food system in GKMA;
  • build human and technical capacity for edible insects-based food system in the area;
  • scale out innovative technologies on insects for food value chains comprising insect farmers, trappers, processors, traders, consumers and others;
  • scale out innovative technologies on insects for feed value chain comprising insect farmers, waste suppliers, processors, traders, feed millers, livestock/fish/poultry farmers and processors of novel insect based products;
  • develop the insect-based biofertilizer value chains comprising insect farmers, processors, traders and crop farmers; and
  • investigate the environmental and gender segregated socioeconomic impacts of edible insects-based food system in GKMA.

Outputs and work packages (WP):

Output 1: Mass adoption, supportive policies and strong public-private partnerships on edible insects value chains established in GKMA – WP 1.1: Strengthen partnerships among food value-chain actors such as the private sector, government agencies, consumers, research and development services and mobilize participation of the public especially women and youths in the value chains of edible insects; WP 1.2: Support analysis of food policy and institutional innovations and facilitate formulation of policies for promoting edible insects-based food system in GKMA; WP 1.3 Strengthen information exchange platforms for insect-based food and feed production and marketing involving stakeholders in the value chain.

Output 2: Skilled manpower trained and requisite infrastructure established to support the establishment of edible insects-based food system in GKMA – WP 2.1: Establish training/starter-kit production facilities to support establishment of small and medium-sized insect farming enterprises targeting especially women and youth, and linking them to financial service providers and markets; WP 2.2 Provide technical support e.g. quality assurance, handling and biosafety risks to edible insects-based entrepreneurs; WP 2.3: Develop handbooks/training resources for training edible insects entrepreneurs, especially women and youth on improved edible insect trapping, mass rearing, value addition and marketing technologies; WP 2.4: Support training of PhD, MSc and Interns to foster scaling of edible insects value chains; WP 2.5: Engage higher educational institutions to integrate entomophagy in relevant curricula.

Output 3: Adequate insect and plant-based food supplied and employment and income from farming and improved trapping of edible insects enhanced – WP 3.1: Establish and evaluate different supply chain models of insect-based foods for quality assurance, profitability, product branding/certification, job creation and income generation; WP 3.2: Develop and assess nutritional and health benefits as well as consumer acceptability of edible insects and their value-added food products such as modern trend food recipes, fortified foods, oils and nutraceuticals; WP 3.3: Assess impacts of improved technologies for wild harvesting of edible insects on biodiversity, energy use and crop yields as a result of trapping pestiferous edible insects.

Output 4: Costly animal feed protein additives such as fish and soybean replaced with insect-based protein sources, increasing employment opportunities and profitability of animal farming, and novel insect based products developed – WP 4.1: Establish and evaluate different supply chain models of insect-based feed on poultry, fish and pig productivity for quality assurance, profitability, product branding/certification, job creation and income generation; WP 4.2: Determine consumer acceptance of fish, pork and poultry products produced with insect-based feeds; WP 4.3: Develop new products such as chitin and chitosan from black soldier fly pupal exuviae for soil health and animal feed amendment; WP 4.4: Develop insect-based oils from black soldier fly and assess their potential as biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and poultry and fish feed additives.

Output 5: GKMA biowaste recycled into high-quality insect-based animal feed additives and affordable quality biofertilizer for improved crop yields – WP 5.1: Assess efficiency of insect rearing on biowaste recycling. WP 5.2: Evaluate the use of insect-based organic manure for enhanced crop production.

Output 6: Contribution of farming edible insects to ecological footprints, food and nutritional security, poverty alleviation and gender equity established – WP 6.1: Assess short/long-term greenhouse gas emissions and energy needs of farming edible insects and animal farming based on insect-based feed; WP 6.2: Assess whole farm level and general equilibrium effect of edible insects-based food system on the society especially women and youth; WP 6.3: Analyze the opportunities and constraints in edible insects value chains; WP 6.4: Assess the direct and indirect socioeconomic and employment effects of promoting value chains of edible insects in GKMA.

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Attachments (26)

Egonyu et al poster-AAS-final A0.pdf

Conference poster summarizing icipe's achievements in developing insects for food and feed sector

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Amy Franklin

James! So good to see you on here! Too bad the place size is restricted or we could have combined our proposal for DRC and Uganda. Lets catch up soon!