Farms For Orphans Project

Little Herds is partnering with Farms for Orphans on a very exciting project that will empower communities to flourish using insect farming as a tool for achieving food and economic security for those most in need.

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Farms for Orphans, Inc is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Loveland, Colorado.

The mission of Farms for Orphans is to ensure orphaned and underprivileged children in developing countries have a sustainable source of nourishment and access to education by building the agricultural infrastructure needed to produce food and provide training in environmentally sound agricultural practices.

Farms for Orphans (FFO) proposes to implement a program of small-scale edible insect farming within orphanages in developing countries where eating insects is a culturally appropriate and common practice. Certain insects are highly nutritious, containing high fat, protein and micronutrient contents with much lower resource demands and environmental impacts than traditional livestock rearing. In countries where insects are regularly eaten, edible insect species are routinely collected from the wild, and thus only inconsistently available. Small scale insect farming will enable food insecure orphanages a low-cost, consistent and nutritious food source, which also has the potential for generating extra income.

The primary goal of FFO’s program is to provide a sustainable source of protein and micronutrients to the most disadvantaged children through small scale food grade insect cultivation within orphanages. A secondary goal is to provide vocational training in insect rearing techniques to older orphans who will soon leave the institution as adults, with a focus on young women, so that they have improved prospects to support themselves after they leave the orphanage. The project addresses a number of USAID Feed the Future indicators and directly tackles several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, such as ending poverty and hunger, providing good health and well-being, providing quality education, and promoting gender equality.

For this first project, FFO is excited to partner with Entomo Farms to initiate cricket farming in several orphanages in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. DRC is the lowest ranked country in the Worldwide Hunger Index, is the 8th most vulnerable country in the world to climate change, has the lowest per capita GDP, is tied for last on the UN Human Development Index, and has the 2nd largest number of extreme poor in the world (USAID 2014). Orphanages in DRC have no government sponsorship or funding and are viewed as a drain on society. Despite international efforts, orphaned children and their caregivers are largely unable to secure resources to buy food, and have no choice but to beg for food/money on the street (Father Gaston FFO board member, pers. comm.). Thus, estimated malnutrition and associated stunting rates among these children are higher than in the general population, in large part due to increased food insecurity as compared to the general population. FFO is targeting the lowest socioeconomic sector of the population, with the goal of elevating this sector to be on par with the rest of the indigenous community.

Indirect beneficiaries of this program are the communities that care for orphans. By breaking the cycle of malnutrition in orphanages through improved nutrition, this project will result in healthier future adults with the potential to contribute to their communities. In addition to added food availability and security, Insect production can provide supplemental income for orphanages through the sale of the excess insect production. Thus, this will transform orphanages from a drain on communities to a community resource. Finally, orphans will be trained in insect rearing that will provide them an avenue to self-sufficiency when they become members of their respective communities. Shared knowledge on insect rearing with agriculture extension offices will serve as a conduit to spread the concept of this low-cost agricultural system outside of orphanages. Many families in rural communities grow their own food, thus the indirect beneficiaries of this intervention are extensive. FFO proposes to collaborate with national and local agriculture programs that can provide both expert knowledge and an avenue to disseminate information and technology to others about how to best institute insect rearing as an additional crop. Thus, there are multiple indirect benefits from the program in both the short and long-term that range from assisting local communities to impacting national agricultural interests.

This initial program supporting orphanages in Kinshasa, DRC represents a model system that can be eventually expanded to orphanages throughout sub-Saharan Africa where consumption of insects is widely practiced; edible insects are a regular part of over 2 billion people’s diets (UN FAO 2013). The insect species cultivated are native and geographically widespread throughout Africa and can provide a protein source that currently is only available from wild insect populations. In the short-term, the project plans to expand operations to orphanages throughout the DRC. In the long-term, expansion will focus on west Africa, central Africa, followed by remaining African countries, eventually impacting millions of orphans. Because insects are easily farmed with minimal technical infrastructure or capital expenditure, the project expects expansion of the system to be relatively rapid.

For more information or to get involved in this project, email us at LittleHerds@gmail.com!