Of the hundreds of articles that I have written in the Daily Monitor since 1992, there is hardly any that has attracted as much public reaction as the one I wrote about Mr Deo Kiwanuka of Gulama Village, Buwunga Sub-county, in Masaka District.
He is a beekeeper that has also been breeding grasshoppers and crickets for some years now and it was his rather unique farming activities that led me to look him up in 2014 for the story.
A year earlier, I had written about some effort by grasshopper trappers in Masaka Municipality, to breed crickets. They chose to begin with crickets before proceeding to breed grasshoppers which they claimed required more working space.
One of them, also a poultry farmer, had boosted his chickens’ egg production by adding dry grasshopper wings powder to the feeds.
Millions of people eat insects as they are, or processed – for instance into protein powders to serve as supplements and into livestock feeds. Crickets according to Kiwanuka may be used in making poultry and fish feeds.
Kiwanuka has realised that grasshoppers are a delicacy in Uganda whose production ought to be tapped into for income generation and food security.
According to an article in the (online) Independent Media, insects can serve as sustainable alternative sources of proteins and other nutrients.
Insects are rich in essential amino acids and protein. They are sometimes superior per ounce, to traditional protein sources, including beef, chicken, goats and sheep.
Nutritional benefits can vary from one insect species to another. For example, the Orthoptera group of insects, that contains grasshoppers, yields the highest protein content.
In Uganda, April and May, November and December are known to be grasshopper seasons but only very few people quite understand where the delicious insects originate.
According to the publication, Africa is home to more than 1900 edible insect species – mostly beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, wasps and ants.
Insects reproduce quickly and have high growth rates, most of them completing their life cycle in just three weeks. And, unlike traditional agriculture farming insects doesn’t require much land and water.