What do you do if your crops are being destroyed by pests? You use pesticide? Well, why not just eat the pests??
Yes… the farmers of Majuli, the largest riverine island of the world, have found a new way of pest control – eating the insects that destroy their hard cultivated crops.
Majuli has been facing a major problem with white grub beetles (Lepidiota mansueta), a biennial beetle species, locally known as ‘hati-puk’. The larvae of this species of beetle has been destroying about 35 to 40 percent of the island’s cultivation every year.
After years of struggle, researchers have now found a way to convert these pests into resources. Researchers of the Assam Agricultural University, as part of the All India Network Project on Soil Arthropods Pests (AINPSAP), and led by principal investigator Badal Bhattacharyya, have found that the insects are high on antioxidants, protein and about 7 minerals and carbohydrates. A special edible powder having 76 percent protein content has been made that is used to make biscuits and ‘bhujia’ for human consumption.
Under the University’s social engineering project over 400 farmers have been appointed to collect the insects for processing.
Speaking to NKTV, Badal Bhattacharyya said, “What harms the crops are the larvae of ‘hati-puk’. We have to kill the premature insects before they mate. These beetles spend most of their life underground, only coming over ground to mate, which is during the spring season. The appointed farmers capture them in the evening.”
Over 11 lakh insects have been killed as of now and are used as feed for animals and for human consumption. These are eaten fried and used in other dishes.