In the serene Namthoe Village of Kisumu County, a visionary farmer named Charles Odira has crafted an extraordinary agricultural venture that blends tradition with innovation. Amidst his sprawling two-acre farm, a diverse range of agricultural activities thrives, from orchards to dairy and poultry units, and even a tree seedling nursery.
However, it’s his cricket farming endeavor that has captured the attention of both the local community and agricultural enthusiasts across the region.
As one steps onto Mixa Farm, Mr. Odira’s pride is evident as he welcomes visitors to the cricket section of his operation. With a passion ignited by the promise of crickets’ exceptional nutritional benefits, he embarked on this journey five years ago.
Charles Odira found his inspiration in the knowledge that crickets contain higher protein content than conventional sources such as beef and chicken, making them an ideal candidate to address nutritional needs.
In a rustic yet ingeniously designed cricket pen, measuring 10 meters by 6 meters, six individual pens provide a home for approximately 180,000 crickets.
Alongside this intricate pen setup, an array of plastic crates houses 1,500 crickets each. It’s a thriving microcosm of Acheta crickets, a species known for its elevated fatty acid content, delectable taste, and a rich array of essential nutrients including zinc, iron, and calcium.
Odira’s holistic approach to cricket farming extends to their diet. The crickets are nourished with a diet of vegetables, soy flour, and water.
Over a span of three months, these tiny creatures metamorphose into mature, nutrient-rich specimens ready for harvest. To address the aversion some may have towards consuming whole crickets, Odira ingeniously turned to value addition.
The process involves careful curation, capturing mature crickets and subjecting them to blanching before meticulously drying them.
This technique not only imparts a distinct flavor but also eliminates any potential bacteria. The dried crickets then undergo the final phase of transformation, as they are meticulously milled into a fine, high-protein powder.
This cricket flour emerges as a star ingredient, seamlessly incorporated into a range of products, including cakes, bread, cookies, and waffles.
The heartwarming response from consumers validates Odira’s approach. A kilogram of whole crickets is priced at Sh1,000, while their milled counterpart commands Sh2,800 per kilogram.
Odira’s vision extends beyond the financial aspect; it’s a campaign to bring crickets, in their most palatable form, to the plates of his community.
The cricket-infused baked goods, priced at Sh50 for a 400g loaf of bread, Sh25 for waffles and cupcakes, and Sh10 for cookies, showcase the potential of cricket-based products to transform culinary norms.
Mixa Farm’s cricket-based products are not just culinary novelties; they are vehicles of change, championing a sustainable protein source that addresses nutritional needs while respecting ecological balance.
As the cricket farming initiative gains momentum, the enterprise tailors its production to meet orders, primarily serving the local community and participating in exhibitions.
Nonetheless, as with any pioneering venture, hurdles loom on the horizon. Consumer apprehension and bacterial infections remain prominent challenges.
Earlier this year, Mixa Farm was struck by a bacterial outbreak that nearly decimated the cricket population. Yet, adversity breeds innovation, and Odira swiftly adapted, incorporating antibiotics to combat the infection.
His unwavering commitment to maintaining impeccable hygiene highlights a crucial facet of cricket farming success.