Madagascar Biodiversity Center (Valala Farms)

Madagascar Biodiversity Center (Valala Farms)

a traditional food for an extreme modern climate

  • Goal 2

  • Madagascar

  • 2023 - 2026

  • Madagascar Biodiversity Center

What if better emergency aid-food was hopping right under our noses?

In partnership with

Madagascar Biodiversity Centre logo

Madagascar is home to some unique wild-life: lemurs, hog-nosed snakes, net-throwing spiders, and something called a skink. This island is in the Indian Ocean, kilometres from continental Africa, which means that the plants and animals there have been left alone to evolve and grow in weird and wonderful ways. But lately, increasingly extreme weather has been calling Madagascar home too, and that’s causing trouble for plants, animals and people alike.  

Madagascar is no stranger to extreme weather. In a regular year, six cyclones will make landfall on the island. But in the fourteen months from January 2022, nine violent storms blew over the island, including one—Freddy—that turned around and came back for more.  

The damage to homes, farms, crops and livelihoods can be very serious. The UN has called the most recent bout of hunger on the island the world’s first ‘climate famine. With their crops flattened, folks in Madagascar sometimes turn to the already-depleted forests for food. It’s a bad situation for people, animals and plants too. 

But the good people at the Madagascar Biodiversity Centre (MBC) aren’t going to wait around for the next storm to blow through to do something about it. MBC is a Malagasy non-profit, and they’ve been testing a recipe for emergency aid-food that can help people and planet alike after a disaster. And the main ingredient? Crickets.  

It’s not as far-fetched as it might sound. Crickets are a traditional food in Madagascar. They’re high in protein and iron, and they take less water, food, and space to grow than other protein sources. When you grind them into a powder and press them into a cracker or stir them into a porridge, they can taste chocolatey or nutty, or a bit like shrimp.  

MBC have built a great big cricket colony at Valala Farms in Antananarivo and are ready to expand. Hungry people in Madagascar like their cricket porridge and international aid organisations want them to make more. With support from the innocent foundation they’ll be able to scale production in the right way, using agricultural waste to feed the crickets and using the cricket waste as plant fertiliser. One big, buggy, circle of life. And they’ll be doing it all in modular bug farms you can set up or stow away as and when you need them. After an extreme weather event, for instance. It’s a low-cost, low-waste, climate-friendly way to create high protein, high iron aid-food where you need it, when you need it. Not bad for a little cricket.  

Read about our other projects here.