Nigeria: Eat More Insects to Tackle Lassa Fever, Others, Don Tells Nigerians

(file photo).
13 February 2020

Abeokuta — An entomologist, Professor Olusegun Lawal has advocated regular eating of insects among Nigerians as a better alternative source of protein to boost body immune system against infectious diseases such as Coronavirus, Lassa fever among others.

Lawal spoke with newsmen at Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago - Iwoye, Ogun State, shortly after he delivered the university's 94th Inaugural lecture. The lecture was titled "Insects: The Perceived Enemies With Veritable Vaults of Resources."

The Professor of Entomology submitted that an enhanced body immune system which comes with consuming diets rich in insects, would not prevent infectious diseases but will ensure that one is not "knocked down" if infection occurs.

According to him, if Nigerians adopt insects as alternative source of protein, it would help address herders - farmers clashes, the attendant losses and security implications on the health of the country, adding that "insects are relatively easy to harvest all year - round and excellent sources of protein, vitamins, fats and essential minerals."

Lawal, who is also the Dean, Faculty of Science, cited grasshopper, crickets, flying termites, palm weevil, beetle, caterpillars, honey bees, ants among others as rich reservoir of balanced diet and commanding better and cheaper nutritional values than cow or other livestock.

The Professor who had conducted extensive researches on insects in the Southwest of Nigeria, their uses and management, said there are 17 identifiable species of insects, one species of arachnida, three species of mollusca and crustacea which were being used as herbal remedies for 'Thunderbolts,' mental illness and protection against wicked people.

While delivering his lecture, the inaugural lecturer said the "controversial and divisive RUGA initiative" proposed by the Federal Government would be most unnecessary if all Nigerians support insects eating.

He said: "Insects are also an excellent food source. The bigger the livestock, the more food, land space and water required to produce the final edible product resulting in higher greenhouse gas emission.

"This advocates the need to embrace entomophagy (insects eating). A cow consumes 8kg of feed to produce 1kg of beef but only 40% of the cow is available for human consumption whereas crickets only require 1.7kg of food to produce 1kg of meat and 80% of is considered edible.

"They are richer in protein, fat, mineral, fibre and vitamin contents, making them a cheap balanced diet for humans. The green benefit of insects is very high. For example, they are fed less but produce more food when compared to cow and other livestock. They emit less greenhouse gas and ammonia than other livestock and require less land for cultivation.

"There is need to initiate an insect rearing programme on a national scale in Nigeria. Therefore, farming of insects should be employed as way of promoting entomophagy (eating of insects) in Nigeria."

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