Interview with Kahitouo Hien, FasoPro founder.
Tell us how you got interested in edible insects
Shea caterpillars are traditional food for some ethnic group in Burkina Faso especially in the western part of the country where I come from. As a little boy, I used to eat this insect with my dad. But at that time, I couldn’t imagine that caterpillars where full of proteins, iron, omega 3, vitamins and other nutrients.
The idea of creating a business came to me when I realized that edible insects can play a key role in food security and even be a solution to fight again malnutrition especially in rural areas in Africa.
What kind of insect are you working with at the moment?
We are working with Shea caterpillar, an edible insect from Burkina Faso and we are planning to add some products made with others edible insects like locusts within next December.
Why are you focused on caterpillar?
Because it is the most nutritious and accessible edible insects in my country. Also, it is well known by the population as a great source of proteins.
What’s the social goal of this project?
The social goal of FasoPro is to create job for rural women who are involve in caterpillars gathering but also to make a highly nutritious products to tacle malnutrition in my communities and beyond. Each year about 400 women are involved in caterpillars gathering.
What products are you marketing and where is it possible to buy them?
Now we are selling caterpillars with or without chili, caterpillars powder and a caterpillars cake.
You can find our products in more than 250 shops in Burkina Faso especially in big cities like Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso. Some partners are now interested to distribute our products in Europe (France), Canada and USA. That must be possible by September 2017.
The products are also available in some countries like Ivory Coast, Mali and Niger.
How is the consumers’ perception regarding insects-based products in Burkina Faso?
In Burkina Faso, each ethnic group have a specific edible insect as a traditional food. And when it comes to shea caterpillars, some people don’t eat them just because they’re not part of their diet. Young people don’t have any problem to try and we are attracting more and more consumers by making them aware about the nutritional value of edible insects.
Do you need any kind of “special authorization” to breed/process/market edible insects in your country?
No, because we are not creating a novel food, we are just trying to give more value to a local ressources. So, we don’t need any special authorization in our country.
What’s the future of entomophagy in your area?
As lot of people were used to eat insects in my area in traditional and basic way, the future of entomophagy must be great with all the efforts we are making to give more value to insects. I’m almost sure that insects will play key role in the future of human nutrition, at least as a great source of proteins.