Towards sustainable integration of edible insects as nutrient resources in marginalized south-eastern regions of Zimbabwe

Date and Time: 

Thursday, April 26, 2018 - 13:00 to 14:30

This event is part of the Webinar Series “Agriculture-Nutrition-Health linkages: Research in the African context”.

Session 7: Towards sustainable integration of edible insects as nutrient resources in marginalized south-eastern regions of Zimbabwe
Robert Musundire, Associate Professor of Entomology in the Department of Crop Science and Post Harvest Technology at Chinhoyi University of Technology in Zimbabwe.

Webinar resources:

Download the webinar slides
Watch the recording (the presentation runs between 04:30 and 50:42 minutes)
Join the discussion on the online forum (you need to log in or become an Academy member first)


The south-eastern districts of Zimbabwe are characterised by low annual rainfall and soils with low nutrient content leading to low crop yields. The population density is also high with an average of 4 acres per household making it difficult to sustain mixed farming systems based on crop and livestock production. Malnutrition is also prevalent in most communities in these regions due to erratic supplies of nutritious foods such as vegetable and animal protein sources. Despite these circumstances, a wide variety of edible insects are found in these regions with approximately 80% of the population partaking in insect consumption.

However, insect consumption has been sporadic due to overreliance on wild collections. There has been little documentation on how these uncontrolled consumption practices impact on the long term availability of these insects as well as the contribution of edible insects to improving household food and nutritional security in these regions. With increased intensification of the conventional crop production activities, there have also been no records on edible insect habitat stability. Research studies conducted were aimed at documenting the diversity of edible insects, harvesting, preparation for consumption methods and nutritional composition in south eastern districts of Zimbabwe as a way of consolidating all the knowledge about these food resources in these regions. Additionally, further studies were undertaken with the aim of assessing safety standards of insects harvested and prepared according to traditional practices and explore methods for captive rearing of insects as a way to ease pressure on wild collection of edible insects.

Several research approaches were used including questionnaire surveys for baseline data collection, ecological methods for mapping habitats and species diversity, chemical analytical methods to assess nutritional composition and contaminants in the insect food samples as well as trials on suitable conditions for mass production of some edible insects. Findings from these studies revealed that more than 50 insect species are consumed in these regions with protein content varying from 26 to 58% on dry matter basis depending on insect species. Some insects such as edible stink bugs contained beneficial compounds such as antioxidants. Some insect habitats were found to be threatened by agricultural activities while edible insects that occur in agricultural habitats, such as crickets, faced extinction from agricultural pesticides. It was also noted that there was a need to critically evaluate some traditional harvesting and preparation for consumption methods to make edible insects safe for consumers. In conclusion, studies on captive rearing of some edible species indicated that there is need to simplify rearing protocols for easy adoption by small scale insect farmers.

About the webinar series

The ANH Academy and the African Nutrition Society have launched a new webinar series exploring critical links between agriculture, livelihoods, health and individual and household nutrition in Africa.

The webinars invite early career researchers from across the Academy and ANS membership to discuss research methodologies, metrics and policy implications of studies that seek to better understand, measure and analyse these linkages. The series is designed to foster meaningful, innovative and international peer-to-peer conversations by utilising the global ANH Academy research network and ANS membership.

The webinar series brings together researchers from around the globe working at the interdisciplinary crossroads of agriculture-nutrition-health to explore emerging issues, share ideas and identify critical issues that will drive future research in the African context. With a strong research focus, the series will provide a platform for early career researchers to share their on-going work and topical studies, and engage with the international research community around issues that are pertinent in Africa, with lesson learning for other contexts.

Webinars take place on a monthly basis and the ANH Academy online forum will be used to facilitate the cross-fertilisation of ideas, experiences, relevant research and resources among participants and presenters between sessions.

Event type: 


virtual (time provided in BST/ London)

Robert Musundire, Associate Professor of Entomology in the Department of Crop Science and Post Harvest Technology at Chinhoyi University of Technology in Zimbabwe.

Robert holds a B.Sc. in Agriculture and an M.Sc. in Crop Protection from the University of Zimbabwe and a PhD in Entomology from the University of Pretoria, Republic of South Africa. Robert been a recipient of several prestigious international fellowships which include the African Regional Postgraduate Programme in Insect Sciences (ARPPIS) fellowship, Netherlands University Foundation for International Cooperation (NUFFIC), Belgian Technical Cooperation (BTC), Biovision Nxt and a postdoctoral research fellowship at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology based in Nairobi, Kenya (2013-2014) funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). He has previous working experience as a Research Officer at the Plant Protection Research Institute, Tobacco Research Board of Zimbabwe and the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe.

His interest in edible insects dates back to the year 2014 when he was employed as a Curator of Entomology at the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe based in Bulawayo. His passion grew through his lectureship years at Midlands State University and Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe. Prof. Musundire has edited and reviewed manuscripts for many international journals including Journal of Applied Biosciences, International Journal of Tropical Insect Science, Food Control, African Journal of Ecology, British Journal of Applied Science and Technology, Phytoparasitica and as guest Editor for the Journal of Insects as Food and Feed Special Edition II.