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Biodiversity International Journal

Mini Review Volume 1 Issue 2

Gateway for alternative protein production

Chowdhury GR,1 Mukherjee P,2 Biswas P,3 Chowdhury RR,2 Zaman S,3 Mitra A4

1Techno India University, India
2Department of Biotechnology, Techno India University, India
3Department of Oceanography, Techno India University, India
4Department of Marine Science, University of Calcutta, India

Correspondence: Abhijit Mitra, Department of Marine Science, University of Calcutta, 35 BC Road, Kolkata 700019, India

Received: July 15, 2017 | Published: August 16, 2017

Citation: Chowdhury GR, Mukherjee P, Biswas P, et al. Gateway for alternative protein production. Biodiversity Int J. 2017;1(2):47-48. DOI: 10.15406/bij.2017.01.00008

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Global human population growth, world population, protein bank, entomophagy


Global human population growth is estimated to be around 75 million annually, which is 1.1% per year. The world population has grown from 1 billion in 1800 to 7 billion in 2012. It has also been estimated that the world population will be around 8-10 billion in 2050. Based on several observations, the human population growth on Earth can be divided into 3 distinct phases. The first phase (pre-modern phase) was characterized by very slow population growth. The second phase, beginning with the onset of modernity (lasted till 1962) exhibited an increasing rate of population growth. Currently we are passing through the third phase of population growth where the growth rate is gradually stabilizing and experiencing a decreasing phase.

India’s population is about 17.86% of the total world population and ranks number two in the list of countries by population. The current population of India on July13, 2017 is 1,342,934,169.1 The population forecast in India in 2050 is around 1,705,332,544.1 This enormous population requires a huge protein bank due to limitation in land and water resources. The supply of protein from these sources has almost touched the critical level. The protein production is experiencing a slow pace and the supply chain is gradually subsiding. It is in this context that there is an utmost need of alternative protein sources, which can, for instance be obtained from insects. Edible insects have always been a part of human diet, and in many countries they are consumed either as whole or as ingredient to other food. More than 1900 insect species are reportedly used as food. Globally, the most commonly consumed insect are beetles (Coleoptera; 31%) followed by caterpillar (under Lepidoptera; 81%), bees, wasps, ants, under (Hymenoptera; 14%). In addition grasshoppers, locusts, crickets (Orthoptera), true bugs and scaled insects (Heminoptera) are also consumed.

In this paper, we present a first order analysis of the scope of insects to be used as food. In this table we present three major benefits associated with entomophagy (Table 1).




Insects are rich in protein compared to mutton, beef and chicken.
The protein percentages in the adult and larvae of the orders Coleoptera,
Lepidoptera, Hemiptera, Homoptera, Hymenoptera, Odonata, Orthoptera
range between 23-66%, 14-68%, 42-74%, 45-57%, 13-77%,
46-65%, 23-65% respectively.


  1. Insects play an important role in reducing the emission
    and Green House Gas compared to livestock.
  1. Insects feed on organic waste which
    otherwise would have emitted Green House
    Gas to the atmosphere.
  1. The ammonia emission associated with insect rearing is far lower
    than that linked to conventional livestock such as pigs.


  1. Rearing and breeding insects for human consumption or for
    production of fish food in aquaculture etc. can be a
    gateway to alternative livelihood opportunities for rural populations
  1. Processing and preparing insect to produce powder, paste or other
    food ingredients can be source of income for people related
    with Food Technology, Microbiology, Biotechnology
    and other branches of Life Science.

Table 1 Benefits of using insect as protein source.

Source: Xiaoming et al.3

Insects: a protein bank

Insects are basically the protein bank of planet Earth. Considering the protein level of edible insects, it is high time to initiate entomo-farming (Figure 1). This can be a road map for alternative livelihood, employment opportunities, and food security. However, the protein content of insects is a function of the stages of their life cycle. It has been found that the protein content is maximum in adult insect, as witnessed in case of variegated grasshoppers Zonocerus variegates (raw) (Figure 2). Ademolu et al.2 and Xiaoming et al.3 evaluated the protein content of 100 species from five orders of Insecta, and observed a protein range between 13-77% of dry matter (Figure 2).

Figure 1 Grasshopper (Zonocerus variegates) rearing model unit at Techno India University, West Bengal.

Figure 2 Percentages of crude protein content in different orders of class Insecta. The orders are placed in the X-axis and the protein percentages are presented in the Y-axis.

The present article thus points towards a non-conventional gateway of protein production for the rapidly increasing human population on Earth. This particular vertical can also be a source of alternative livelihood for rural populations and thus may be a road map to reduce poverty and unemployment in the developing nations of the world.



Conflict of interest

Authors declare there is no conflict of interest.


Creative Commons Attribution License

©2017 Chowdhury, et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and build upon your work non-commercially.