Starting in early 2020, the global desert locust situation deteriorated as favorable climatic conditions allowed widespread breeding of the pest in East Africa, Southwest Asia and the area around the Red Sea. Locust swarms have devastated crops across East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and parts of India this year, and experts fear their numbers will explode as monsoon rains arrive.
Pakistan, one of the affected countries, has been working on a pilot project in Punjab’s Okara district to convert locust into animal feed. The project offers a sustainable solution in which farmers earn money by trapping locusts that are turned into high-protein poultry feed. Farmers were paid 20 rupees ($0.12) per kilogram of locust that were processed by Hi-Tech Feeds, Pakistan’s largest animal feed producer, which substituted 10% of soybean in its chicken feed by insects, according to local news.
“All nutritional aspects came out positive. There was no issue with the feed made from these locusts. If we can capture the locusts without spraying them, their biological value is high and they have good potential for use in fish, poultry and even dairy feed,” the company said.
The Pakistani government plans to expand the project to other locations. While the project is not a solution to the devastation caused to crops, it can provide hard-hit farmers with a fresh revenue stream and relieve pressure on authorities struggling to distribute locust-beating pesticides.