A nutrient-rich traditional insect for improving food security and reducing biodiversity loss in Madagascar and sub-Saharan Africa

Cortni Borgerson, Brian L. Fisher, Be Noel Razafindrapaoly, Be Jean Rodolph Rasolofoniaina, Jeanne Mathilde Randriamanetsy, Be Lexion Razafindrapaoly, Delox Rajaona, Patsy Herrera, Joost Van Itterbeeck, Kenneth M. Martinez, Matthew L. Aardema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Forests, and the vertebrate species within them, are irreplaceable sources of food and nutrition for millions of people living in areas of high biodiversity. Unfortunately, many of these forests are being cleared for agriculture, and many animals are threatened with extinction from unsustainable hunting. Forest clearing and the hunting of threatened species are untenable solutions to long-term food insecurity and adequate nutrition, jeopardizing these species' survival, the healthy functioning of ecosystems, and the cultural identities of local people. Working with communities to develop culturally appropriate ways for people to obtain sustainable and legal sources of food from forests outside of protected areas is a key component of improving both conservation and food security. We tested the feasibility, suitability, and viability of farming an abundant and traditionally eaten forest insect, Zanna tenebrosa (locally known as sakondry), in rural communities whose food security relies heavily on the hunting of threatened vertebrates. We found that the insect is high in macro- and micronutrients, and can be cheaply, easily, and sustainably cultivated to sustainably diversify forest food systems without increasing habitat loss. Given the range of Z. tenebrosa, which covers a broad swath of central Africa, increasing production of this native insect may support multipronged agroecological approaches to promoting food security, adequate nutrition, and wildlife conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere480
JournalConservation Science and Practice
Volume3
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

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