KAZAKHSTAN – Kazakhstan is exploring the potential for industrial-scale production and export of locusts for feed production, targeting European and other promising markets. 

The initiative aims to turn the country’s frequent locust infestations into a viable economic opportunity, aligning with the growing global interest in sustainable protein sources.

Baurzhan Kasenov, Chairman of the National Agrarian Scientific and Educational Centre, highlighted locusts’ untapped potential as a feed ingredient. 

He noted that nearly 2 billion people worldwide occasionally consume locusts, indicating a substantial market for this alternative protein source. 

Locusts are already used in Russia as a protein source in feed production, demonstrating their viability in the region.

Insect protein, including locusts, is gaining attention as a sustainable alternative due to its low water and land requirements and ability to add value to low-value by-products. 

This makes it an attractive option for animal feed, particularly in regions where traditional protein sources are scarce or expensive.

The potential for locust exports is significant across various regions where the insect is considered edible. These include several African countries, such as Senegal, Nigeria, and South Africa; parts of South America, including Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize; many Asian countries; and several Islamic states. 

The locusts segment is still emerging in Europe, but signs indicate that the market could expand in the coming years. For example, some companies in the Netherlands already process locusts into protein meals, and several European governments have issued grants to research the use of locusts in feed.

Kazakhstan’s frequent locust plagues present an opportunity to transform a natural challenge into a resource. Kasenov suggests that instead of eradicating locusts, the country could harness this significant and valuable resource to benefit the environment. Methods for catching and processing locusts already exist. 

In Russia, the Bioenergiya and K company, in collaboration with the South Ural State Agrarian University, has developed mechanisms to collect locusts from the ground at high speed and low cost, processing them into protein meals for livestock and poultry feed. This method involves collecting locusts in the first 2-3 weeks of their life before they start flying.

Other innovative methods are being studied in the region. In Uzbekistan, scientists have proposed using electrical impulses from drones to paralyze locusts, which are then used as fish feed.

Kazakh companies plan to adopt similar approaches, but Kasenov acknowledges the need for state aid to elevate these technologies to a commercial level. In collaboration with German scientists, the National Agrarian Scientific and Educational Centre has researched methods for collecting and paralyzing locusts using special devices and electrical discharges. 

With government support, these developments could help solve the “locust problem” and provide Kazakhstan’s agricultural producers with a high-quality, mass source of protein.

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