TFS 06-Mobile Cricket Raising Units

Technology fact sheet

31 Oct 2014

Key Facts

  • Cheap production of nutritious animal protein.
  • A 60 litre container can produce 600 grams of crickets within 60 days.

This graph summarizes the results of a sustainability assessment conducted for this technology. The closer the line is to the outer edge of the diagram, the better the technology performs in terms of the particular criterion

What are mobile cricket raising units?1

  • Insects have been a part of the Cambodian and Laotian diets for many centuries. Eating wild fried crickets is very popular and most edible insects are collected in their natural surroundings or around light sources at night in Cambodia’s Ratanakiri Province.
  • Insects provide a healthy and nutritious dietary alternative to mainstream animal proteins like chicken, pork or fish (FAO, 2013).
  • Crickets (Teleogryllus testaceus Walker2 can be raised in simple containers like trash bins (Figure 1), with fresh edible insects available every two months, all year round.
  • The management of a cricket unit requires a few minutes of time daily, a minimal inception investment ($3 to $11) and involves no production cost if the feed is made from agricultural by-products such as dried pounded cassava leaves or rice flour mixtures.
  • No veterinary care is necessary.
  • Unit size and material can be adapted to farmers’ needs (such as concrete jars or tanks). A simple plastic bin of 60 l can produce 600 g of crickets within 60 days.

 

Figure 1. Cricket farming unit (outside view) with egg packing carton cardboard piece and plate with sponges for drinking (right side), egg bowl (inside the bin), and chicken feed (left side)

 

History of the technology

This unit has been designed and implemented under the framework of Annâdya, a European Union-funded project promoting appropriate technology for smallholders to increase food security among indigenous peoples and ethnic groups in Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR). 

 

Where it works

  • Units are meant for small-scale farmers and suitable for uneducated, landless and/or economically vulnerable households.
  • Five hundred Cambodian households with limited economic resources, land access and literacy have successfully adopted the technology in Ratanakiri.
  • The optimum temperature is between 25°C and 30°C and the unit must be kept in a dry place. During winter, it is recommended to keep the bin inside the house where the temperature is higher. Lower temperatures slow down cricket growth, increasing the number of days until maturity.

 

Technological aspects

The container

  • The box can be a clean plastic trash bin, a cement jar, a wooden box, a tank or a similar container. It must be tightly sealed in order to keep out predators and prevent the crickets from escaping.
  • The size of the container can vary: ten crickets can be raised in each litre of container volume (a 60 l container can accommodate 600 crickets).
  • One or two openings, usually a major movable opening at the top (for easy access and monitoring) and an optional minor one on the side (for better aeration) with a fine metal mesh stuck on the holes (fixed with staples and/or glue, silicone or adhesive tape).
  • The box must be sheltered from rain and direct sunlight.
  • Place objects inside the container to optimize space and allow the crickets to hide and move. Cardboard pieces used in egg-packing cartons are an excellent solution.
  • A ‘drinking plate’ for the crickets is made by placing some water in a saucer in order that the cardboard pieces and the feed do not get damp. A piece of cloth or mosquito net is placed around the drinking plate to facilitate the crickets’ access to the water and little sponge pieces or stones are put in the plate so that the baby crickets do not sink.
  • The bin stands on a plate with a larger diameter than the bin. Pour some water in the plate, so that the bottom of the bin is submerged in water. The water protects crickets against predators, especially ants. Water should be added approximately twice a week, and every day during the hot season, to ensure there is always enough water in the plate to keep predators from climbing up the bin.

Cricket feed

  • The feed must be free of pesticide.
  • The feed should ideally be dried. Dry feed facilitates feeding management. However, if fresh feed is used, the left-over must be removed regularly. (N.B. The feed can be dried using Annâdya tunnel solar dryers).
  • During the first 20 days, the feed must be cut into small pieces and crushed, milled or pounded.
  • The following feed can be used for crickets: commercial chicken feed, a mix of rice (flour/broken rice) and young cassava leaves (ratio approximately 1:1) or young cassava leaves alone (Nieus, 2013). If there is no cassava plant, then cocoyam leaves can be used (if possible mixed with rice flour).
  • If available in sufficient quantity, i.e., after satisfying human consumption needs, pumpkin can be used as feed for the last few days before the crickets are harvested. This gives the crickets an attractive “golden” appearance and better flavour.

 

Figure 2. Cricket farming unit (inside view) with some chicken feed inside the egg packing carton cardboard piece (left side), water-filled sponges (right side), egg bowls (top and bottom), and black net to facilitate small crickets’ movements