SWAP (Silkworm as Protein)
Feeding the world is a huge challenge as the population is expected to grow to 9.6 billion by 2050. Increasing income, in addition to improved living conditions, is seen as a driver in the rise of animal protein consumption worldwide. The rate of meat consumption is increasing swiftly in developing regions, namely Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. To meet the growing demand for animal protein in 2050, in developing countries, production has to double. Land area is limiting the ability to meet the demand of increasing meat consumption. Hence there is an urgent need to find an alternative protein source. India, a country hosting more than 300 edible insect species, is still lagging behind in awareness and consumption of insects as food and feed. Insects are mainly reared for their products, silk, honey, carmine and lac and as bio-control agents.
With the platform of ‘rethink protein’ we aim to reduce the protein gap in India. A potential solution to the higher malnutrition problem is the practice of eating insects, known as entomophagy. The approach is through utilizing by-product of silkworm industry (pupae) as food and feed. India is the second largest producer of silk. After reeling, pupae are usually thrown away. Only in north eastern states of India silkworm larvae and pupae are eaten. In other parts of India, highly nutritious silkworm pupae, a by-product of silk industry, get wasted or sometimes used as fertilizer or poultry/fish feed. The cost of silkworm pupae is lower than for more conventional sources of protein, making it easy for people to have access to a protein rich food. 100 g of silkworm pupae contains 55 g protein, 8.5 g fat, 6.5 g fiber, and 25.43 g carbohydrates. Silkworms are also rich in essential amino acids and are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. They furthermore contain notable amounts of iron: around 7.3 mg/100 g pupal fresh weight and around 23.5 mg/100 g in dry pupae. Hence, the aim of the project is to utilize silkworm pupae for food or feed grade products whilst reusing an agricultural by-product and reducing pollution caused by dumping of excess pupae. We work together with an educational institution, a government organization and private companies in planning this project, which is the golden triangle for a successful innovation. We have also considered the concept SHARP (Sustainable, Healthy, Affordable, Reliable, and Preferable) in the project. As one Japanese proverb says, “none of us are as smart as all of us”; we as a team are aiming for the entomophagy revolution in Southern India to reduce the rate of protein gap.