It is widely accepted that by 2050 the world will host 9 billion people.
To accomodate this number, current food production will need to almost
double. Land is scarce and expanding the area devoted to farming is rarely
a viable or sustainable option. Oceans are overfished and climate change
and related water shortages could have profound implications for food
production. To meet the food and nutrition challenges of today – there are
nearly 1 billion chronically hungry people worldwide – and tomorrow, what
we eat and how we produce it needs to be re-evaluated. Inefficiencies need
to be rectified and food waste reduced. We need to find new ways of
growing food. Edible insects have always been a part of human diets, but
in some societies there is a degree of distaste for their consumption.
Although the majority of edible insects are gathered from forest habitats,
innovation in mass-rearing systems has begun in many countries. Insects
offer a significant opportunity to merge traditional knowledge and modern
science in both developed and developing countries. This publication has
its beginnings in an effort in FAO’s Forestry Department to recognize the
traditional practices of gathering insects for food and income, and to
document the related ecological impacts on forest habitats. Thereafter,
FAO embraced the opportunity to collaborate with the Laboratory of
Entomology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands – an institution at
the forefront of fundamental and applied research on insects as food and
feed. This combined effort has since gained momentum and is unfolding into
a broad-based effort at FAO to examine the multiple dimensions of insect
gathering and rearing as a viable option for alleviating food insecurity.