Insects are well represented in terrestrial ecosystems and more specifically tropical. In Africa, many people consume large quantity of insects, especially in west and central Africa. They are part of the nutritional balance of some people. Cirina butyrospermi commonly known as Shea caterpillar is a species found in Burkina Faso and very appreciated by the population. Given its exceptional nutritional properties (63% of proteins, 15% of fat, 2.25% of potassium, 0.18% of calcium, 0.023% of iron, vitamins B12, A, D, E, K), the social enterprise FasoPro got the idea of valuing this caterpillar and marketing its products to fight against malnutrition and to offer an alternative to meat. In order to secure its row material supply, a better product quality, and the availability in all seasons, FasoPro received in 2014 a financing from Grand Challenge Canada. This grant enabled the effective start of the Livestock Research of shea caterpillar. This is how a research program focused on three main points was developed:
- Livestock of Cirina butyrospermi in laboratories starting from caterpillar eggs until pupae.
- Break diapause tests in the species (Control of the outbreak of the chrysalis).
- Semi-artificial diet garment testing to feed the caterpillars.
Conveniently, the program executed in collaboration with the University of Ouagadougou, 2iE and FasoPro has included the collection of egg shells from the ground, monitoring in the laboratory to obtain the chrysalis in order to begin the second part of the program.
Thus, the work helped to identify:
- The convenient temperature to incubate the eggs and obtain caterpillars larvae.
- The success rate in edible caterpillars.
- The success rate in pupae.
Eventually, the results of this research will allow production throughout the year and will allow a transition to semi-industrial scale. The entomophagy could also help to reduce the production of greenhouse gases from livestock.
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