KKU joins FAO to launch the World Food Standard Cricket Farming Manual

KKU researchers in collaboration with The United Nation’s FAO launched the “Guidance on Sustainable Cricket Farming: A Practical Manual for Farmers and Inspectors” via the online international conference.

December 17, 2020 at 14:00 p.m. – The Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO) held a press release with Mr. Sven Walter, the Team Leader of Forest Products and Statistics Team of the FAO Head Office in Rome presiding over the event, which was an FAO’s online Webinar in Asia-Pacific. The event was aimed at launching the FAO’s “Guidance on Sustainable Cricket Farming: A Practical Manual for Farmers and Inspectors”, the leading authors of which are Prof. Dr. Yupa Hanboonsong, Head of Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Faculty of Agriculture, Khon Kaen University and the United Nation’s consultant for edible insects and Mr. Patrick Durst (Former senior Forestry Officer in FAO. The cricket farming guidance is the compilation of bodies of knowledge obtained from over 25 years of cricket farming experiences in Thailand, which began at Khon Kaen University. FAO and Khon Kaen University by Prof. Dr. Yupa have joined to develop and promote edible insect farming in order to increase the world’s food security and food safety. Therefore, this manual will be the prototype for governments and those interested in any part of the world to base on for their safe and sustainable cricket farming. The farming can also become a business where the farm products have more values added. In addition, the manual can be used as the standard guidelines for inspectors who work on certifying standard manufacturing that is safe for consumers. The online conference this time was participated by over 120 people all over the world, who were able to ask questions on the details in the manual. There was suggestion for translation of the manual into other languages. FAO offers free download of the manual from: http://www.fao.org/3/cb2446en/cb2446en.pdf

Prof. Dr. Yupa Hanboonsong, as the key author of the “Guidance on Sustainable Cricket Farming: A Practical Manual for Farmers and Inspectors” related in the conference that 25 years ago, Khon Kaen University began the research and development of cricket farming. KKU has transferred the method to farmers all over the country, and today Thailand has become a leader in modern cricket farming with exports of crickets and products reaching thousands of million baht every year. Isan people are familiar with insect eating, but the insects used to be caught from the wild. Isan people did not know how to farm edible insects. Then in 1997, there was the economic crisis, or the Tom Yam Kung crisis, which resulted in workers being out of job and not having any income. Many people could not afford to buy food. Thus, there was a question arising, “How can people have food to eat?”. That was when Ajarn Thatsanee Jamjanya and Prof. Dr. Yupa Hanboonsong began to develop farming of crickets for people’s food and for household earning. After this, FAO, which is responsible for the world’s food policy, saw the importance of edible insects as a protein source. FAO wanted to apply the technical know-how of Khon Kaen University as a prototype that could assist many countries in the world where food was scarce and at the same time could raise incomes for farmers. Therefore, Khon Kaen University was asked to become a leader in the transfer of edible insect farming technology to countries such as Lao PDR, Kenya, Uganda, etc.

Then in 2013, there was a press release and publication of a book written by Prof. Yupa Hanboonsong on “Six-legged Livestock: Edible Insect Farming, Collection and Marketing in Thailand”. This was the start of edible insect farming, especially crickets in all parts of the world.

The business has continuously been expanded with a lot of business values all over the world. This was the reason why FAO and Khon Kaen University saw the importance of having a manual or guidelines that are correct and yield safe cricket products for consumers. In addition, inspectors can also rely on the manual in their auditing process.

Prof. Dr. Yupa Hanboonsong added that at present crickets have been manufactured into many products such as powdered cricket (suitable for foreigners) or crickets in packages that make it easy and safe to eat. The development has been carried out by lecturers of KKU from many faculties, including Department of Food Technology, Faculty of Technology; Faculty of Engineering (in developing a smart cricket farm); Faculty of Business Administration and Accountancy (in marketing) and the Strategic Institute for Research and Development of the Northeast (promoting good farming practices among the farmers and entrepreneurs who manufacture cricket products) so that cricket farming will be efficient and produce safe food for consumers with competitive competence when exported.

Additionally, Khon Kaen Province knows that Khon Kaen University is the place where cricket farming in Thailand started and is now the world’s model for edible insect production. Now, the province is propelling Khon Kaen to become the “Edible Insect HUB” and has a plan to hold a “World Cricket Festival” in order to promote Thailand as a real world cuisine for edible insects. Prof. Dr. Yupa also recommended new researchers of Thailand to conduct studies for extending edible insects as medication in the future.

News: Prof. Dr. Yupa Hanboonsong

Photos: Jiraporn Pratomchai


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