Dr. Amy Franklin, CEO of “Farms for Orphans” (a Loveland-based 501c-3 organization), presented information about hunger among children worldwide and especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as plans for addressing childhood-hunger in the DRC using edible insects, specifically palm weevil larvae, grown under controlled conditions at orphanages there.  Worldwide, edible insects provide a widespread and reasonably available source of protein and micronutrients. 

Worldwide, approximately ½ of all deaths of children under age 5 is from malnutrition.  Even malnourished kids who don’t die suffer from poor health and poor physical and mental development.  Most at-risk youth are from disadvantaged environments, especially in underdeveloped countries.  Some 153 million children worldwide are orphans.  In DRC, there are some 5.1 million orphans, 4.6 million suffering from malnutrition. 

Additional information is available at www.farmsfororphans.org

Her organization, in cooperation with Congo Relief Mission, United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization and the University of Kinshasa (DRC), is working to develop small-scale palm-weevil-larvae farms at orphanages to provide a source of protein for orphaned children as well as a source of income and employment for the orphans.  These farms, all done in 40-foot shipping containers, require no land, no electricity, and minimal technical expertise, require less resources than conventional farms, and create less green-house gases.  The larvae provide high protein and key micronutrients with a low risk of disease transmission from animal to human.  As there is already a thriving edible-insect market in Kinshasa, this approach needs little change in eating habits.  Temperature and humidity are controlled by opening or closing doors/windows in the shipping containers.  From start-up with some 400 wild-caught larvae, first harvest is in 3 – 4 months with subsequent harvests every 30 days.  A 100-gram serving is some 10 – 12 larvae.  The cost of wild-caught larvae in the market is $8 - $9 per pound, relatively expensive compared to other sources of protein (only crickets are more expensive), so harvested larvae may be either eaten or sold.  Of the farms started so far, 3 are still running; others have failed due to consumption of the original larvae, natural disasters, or death/departure of the local expert. Her organization provides training for orphans in biosecurity (regular cleaning and disinfection, handling and storage of feed), daily and weekly oversight, nutritional testing, ad market comparison.