Go to main content

  1. Home
  2. Upscaling edible insect-based porridge to improve health and nutritional status of PrimarySchool children in Zimbabwean low socio-economic communities

UK - Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Upscaling edible insect-based porridge to improve health and nutritional status of PrimarySchool children in Zimbabwean low socio-economic communities

Disclaimer: The data for this page has been produced from IATI data published by UK - Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Please contact them (Show Email Address) if you have any questions about their data.

Programme Data Last Updated: 23/03/2022

IATI Identifier: GB-GOV-13-FUND--GCRF-BB_T009055_1


Food and nutrition insecurities and malnutrition in the developing countries call for the identification of sustainable sources of food. The necessity for countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to be self-sustaining in the fight against malnutrition is of crucial importance to maintain their autonomy. To counteract the devastation of malnutrition, whilst ensuring food security for the SSA region, researchers nowadays suggest pathways such as the Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) for sustenance. IKS in food processing practices form a bedrock of a community's composite and collective wisdom, which is passed through generations. Maize (Zea mays) is the staple food of Zimbabwe and is used in the production of several traditional foods for the whole household and for weaning children (1). Unfortunately, maize is low in protein, essential minerals (such as calcium, potassium, iron and zinc), essential amino acids (lysine and tryptophan) and essential fatty acids (2,3). Maize fortification with inexpensive sources of proteins is suggested strategy to help alleviate the ever-increasing problems of malnutrition in developing countries (4). Additionally, the current maize-based diet could also contribute to the onset of cardiometabolic traits (CTs) such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes (5). Edible insect's nutritional composition has been studied and it is concluded that are a valuable source of nutrients including essential amino acids, mineral content and essential fatty acids. The benefits of insect powders against malnutrition have been practised in some regions of the country. Despite the intervention showing observable nutrition changes in children, this claim has not been scientifically proven yet. However, the mechanistic link between insect consumption and health is missing. Knowledge of these aspects could promote a broader utilisation of insects in SSA countries. The proposed project aims to contribute to enhance the nutritional status of school-aged children (SAC) (7-11 years) in low socio-economic communities in Zimbabwe by developing new insect-based porridge through modification and upscaling of existing local recipes. To ensure sustainability and availability of the edible insects for processing into the porridge, the project seeks to strengthen the local insect value chains through upscaling some of the traditional rearing techniques being practised by existing mopane worm farmers in Zimbabwe. Despite malnutrition, childhood overweight and obesity is a serious public health problem worldwide (and in the communities of interest) in the 21st century. For the current study, besides focus on linear growth we will also incorporate social behaviour change communication approach to promote healthy eating and learners active lifestyles. We will test the effects of the insect-based food on cognitive function (school performance) and weight status and CTs of SAC based on a single-blinded RCT. This project builds on wealth of existing indigenous knowledge systems, experience of women insect experts that traditionally engage in insect rearing, and includes their active participation in research design, recipe experimentation and product innovation. The improving and upscaling of the traditional mopane worms rearing technologies will satisfy emerging demand while ensuring sustainability by reducing over-reliance on wild collections. Improved local recipes and modified insect-based products will enhance consumer acceptance towards insect consumption leading to increased customer demand, which would improve livelihoods and nutritional status in low socio-economic communities. 1.MUDIMU, G. 2002. Zimbabwe food security issues paper. 2.MBATA et al 2009. African Journal of Food Science 3, 107-112. 3. NUSS & TANUMIHARDJO. 2010. Comprehensive Rev. in Food Science and FoodSafety, 9. 4. TONTISIRIN et al. 2002. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 61, 243-250. 5. ORDOVAS & CORELLA 2004. Annu. Rev. Genomics Hum. Genet., 5, 71-118


The effects of both undernutrition and overnutrition in school-age children range from impaired cognitive function (affecting school performance and increasing of drop-out rates) to increased disease vulnerability and antisocial behaviour (1, 2). Child malnutrition in many developing countries is at unacceptable levels, particularly iron and zinc deficiencies (3). In Zimbabwe, anaemia rates were 27% among adolescents and only 55% of households are consuming an acceptable diet. Moreover, according to UNICEF Zimbabwe country office nutrition strategy (2018-2020), emerging issues such as obesity among adolescents needs critical action. Most of the nutrition intervention programmes in Zimbabwe are targeted at children under five such as Infant and Young Child Feeding (ZIMVAC, 2018). School-aged and adolescents are justified grey areas in terms of focus for nutrition state support schemes (2). Against this background, the proposed project aims to contribute to improve the nutritional status of primary school children (PSC) (7-11years) in low socio-economic communities in Zimbabwe by developing novel insect protein enriched porridge through modification and upscaling of existing local recipes. To avoid child malnutrition due to the prolonged droughts and poor agricultural harvests some Zimbabwean rural communities traditionally use to mix insect powder from either soldier termites or mopane worms with especially finger millet cereal flour to make a porridge they use as a infants complementary food (4). Although this intervention study has shown observable nutritional impact in children, this claim has not been scientifically proven yet. In view of this, we aim to evaluate the formulation and nutritional quality of cereal-mopane worm and soldier termite composite flour, the changes in composition, protein and mineral bioavailability after processing and the effect of consuming the porridge on nutrition status of PSC in Zimbabwe. Nutrition status in this project will focus on undernutrition but also taking into cognisance over nutrition. The hypothesis is that insect fortified-porridge consumption will show equal nutritional improvements to those consuming conventional maize-based porridge. So, it is crucial to optimise and upscale the production process of this culturally acceptable, insect-based porridge. To achieve our aim we have plan the following objectives: a. To evaluate the existing practices and the nutritional quality of the traditional and locally consumed edible insect-cereal porridge by analysing its nutritional quality. b. To develop community acceptable and cheap nutrient dense complimentary foods for PSC with improved protein and mineral bioavailability for home use and industrial level. c. To evaluate the effects of daily supplementation (12 months intervention) of the insect-based porridge foods on linear growth and micronutrient status as well as cardio metabolic traits of PS learners compared with conventional white maize-based porridge on school-aged children (7-11years). d. To upscale the traditional mopane worms rearing technologies by providing acceptable methods for commercial (or upscaled) rearing of the mopane caterpillars working with communities that are already practising the tradition rearing methods. e. To disseminate project findings in order to establish value chain stakeholder network platforms and support for policy makers. Strategies for increasing affordability, manufacturer identification and distribution will be highlighted in the implementation plan. Longer-term we envisage this culturally relevant product could have wider applications for children and pregnant/lactating women in different regions of the country. 1.BUNDY, et al 2006. Disease control priorities in developing countries, 30, 1091. 2.CUSICK & KUCH, 2012. Adolescent medicine: state of the art reviews, 23, 440-456. 3. WAKEELet al 2018. Plant Micronutrient Use Efficiency. Elsevier. 4. KWIRI et al 2015. Glob. J. Sci.Front.Res14

Status - Implementation More information about Programme status
Programme Spend More information about Programme funding
Participating Organisation(s) More information about implementing organisation(s)

This site uses cookies

We use Google Analytics to measure how you use the website so we can improve it based on user needs. Google Analytics sets cookies that store anonymised information about how you got to the site, the internal pages you visit, how long you spend on each page and what you click on while you're visiting the site. Read more