The cricket farming project in Vientiane Province, Laos, is moving right along! The crickets have been hatched, and our project team recently visited the farmers for some mentoring visits. During the visits, a few hatch box problems were solved by replacing materials and upgrading materials (such as tape and wood) in order to better keep the crickets contained. The farmers do not want spiders or lizards to enter and eat their crickets! In some instances, larger crickets were eating the smaller crickets, but the project team assisted the farmers and separated the different types of crickets so there was no further cannibalism.
Farmers and their families look in the cricket boxes to check on the status of their cricket farms:
Crickets grow quickly! These are full-size crickets just a few months after the beginning of the project:
The mentoring visits also included some instruction for how to properly clean the cages and make the environment more suitable for the grown crickets. Growing crickets means that their appetite is increased, and their feces produced was something to consider. However, the farmers are able to use the cricket feces as fertilizer in their vegetable and flower gardens! Many of the project participants had such successful cricket farms that they ran out of the feed that was supposed to be more than enough for the first part of the project. Farmers were able to supplement their cricket feed with vegetable scraps and leaves. At the time of the visit, the crickets also started to lay eggs of their own for the first time, and farmers were taught how to provide for the new cricket parents by providing small bowls or plates of either sawdust or burned rice husks mixed with water as a medium for a place for the crickets to lay their eggs.
On August 20th, Veterinarians without Borders conducted a workshop and training for how the communities can process their grown crickets for consumption. The most basic and tasty way is to fry the crickets with herbs and spices. One of the more experienced cricket farmers that is helping to lead the initiative, helped the other farmers prepare the crickets, step-by-step. The participants were very excited- because the 2 kg of crickets processed were from their own production! The workshop was fantasticand exceeded everyone’s expectations… the participants not only fried the crickets, but additionally cooked traditional bamboo soup (gaeng normai) to which they added crickets, and prepared papaya salad and sticky rice. See the video and photos below for a play-by-play of the processing day!
After cleaning the crickets, they are added to a pot of heated oil for frying:
Fried kaffir leaves:
Adding spices to the finished fried crickets:
Everyone enjoying the finished meal!