In mid-December, Rasmus carried out preliminary research in Uganda. He carried out focus group discussions with both refugees in the Kyaka II settlement and with some of the Ugandan neighbours to the settlement.
The purpose was to find out more about the interest in consuming and producing mealworm among the refugees, what type of feed might be available and what kind of products there is likely to be a market for.
Based on the responses, there is a lot of interest among the refugees in both consuming and producing mealworm. This is not necessarily surprising, since there is a tradition of consuming many different insects among the Congolese.
In Uganda, consumption of insects such as grasshoppers and termites is also common, and the mealworm were also well received among the Ugandan neighbours to the settlement.
It will be important for the project to include the Ugandan neighbours, as the locals have just as limited access to public services as the refugees, and are in many ways equally vulnerable to poverty. If they are to accept receiving thousands of refugees, it is therefore important that they get access to the same support as the refugees.
Based on the focus group discussions, there appear to be a potential market for mealworm in and around the refugee settlement.
It was particularly interesting to hear that there is a large market for small, dry, fish called ‘silverfish’, which are used as a supplement to meals as a relatively cheap source of protein and vitamins.
The photo shows these silverfish for sale at the local market in the settlement.
It is very likely that farmers in the settlement will be able to produce mealworm for sale cheaper than these fish, and locally produced mealworm could therefore potentially capture a part of this market.
In the medium-term, there is a larger market for animal feed, in particular for poultry production, where the same silverfish are widely used as the main source of protein. Mealworm could also here provide a cheaper and more sustainable alternative source of protein.
All in all this was a very positive visit, which showed a lot of interest in working with us among the refugees and Ugandan neighbours to the settlement, and we are not even more eager to get started!
You can find a brief note on the findings from the visit here.