Malaysia insect farm on track
THE thought of eating creepy-crawlies might give you the creeps, but what if it could help save the environment and reduce world hunger?
Entofood chief executive Franck Ducharne says that insects are the solution to the world's food crisis.
"Today, we have a permanent food crisis due to global warming and natural disasters affecting the production, supply and cost of food," he explained.
At the same time, there is growing demand for more protein sources, like fish and meat, from wealthier and growing economies, including in South-east Asia.
"Insects are excellent sources of protein and essential nutrients. There is also a high biomass of insects - it is the largest population of animals on the planet," he said.
"Another thing many don't realise is that insects are clean animals that can survive in the dirtiest natural environments. This gives them a strong capacity to handle bacteria."
To study the feasibility of producing insects as a sustainable protein source, Mr Ducharne and two business partners from France conducted research in Madagascar for almost two years.
The success of their research prompted them to look for a suitable location for their pilot insect farm.
"We knew we wanted to raise a tropical species and to break into the Asian market. Malaysia provided the strategic geographical location, with the perfect climate and environment," Mr Ducharne said.
The biggest attraction, he added, is Malaysia's strong push for biotechnology, with its tax incentives and guarantees to attract investors to the country.
Entofood set up shop in Malaysia and wasted no time in applying for BioNexus status, which is awarded by the government to companies involved in value-added biotechnology activities.
Entofood operates a small pilot farm in Kuang, Selangor, to breed insects.
"It is a small-scale operation to try out our technology," said Mr Ducharne, who is confident that Entofood is on schedule for commercial operations.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK