Food Security

, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp 817–824 | Cite as

Eat or not eat: an analysis of the status of entomophagy in Botswana

  • Motshwari ObopileEmail author
  • Tapiwa G. Seeletso
Original Paper


In Botswana, mopane worm Imbrasia belina Westwood is culturally accepted as food by people of different age groups from different regions and districts. However, there are several other insect that are anecdotally known to be edible in Botswana. To verify this, a study was conducted by means of a questionnaire and discussions among Batswana of different age groups from six districts in the country to obtain the names of insects that are known to be edible. A total of 27 insect species was identified. The study also investigated methods of collection, processing, precooking preparation, cooking methods, storage and recipes. Chi-square analysis showed that people’s knowledge of edible insects differed with districts and age groups. Older people were more familiar with uncommon edible insect compared to the younger generation. With the exception of mopane worm, the majority of the people interviewed, especially the young, had not eaten any of the species, despite knowing that they were edible. This shows that, apart from the use of mopane worm, entomophagy (the eating of insect by humans) as practiced among Batswana is declining. However, in the light of current decline in food production in Africa, especially in the arid regions of Botswana, insects may make a valuable contribution to the protein and calories of many peoples’ diets. A shift from traditional harvesting to mass production of insects has the potential to provide animal protein to humans through direct consumption or indirectly when used as livestock feed, and could reduce malnutrition.


Edible insects Botswana Insects as food Sustainable production 


  1. Bergier, E. (1941). Peuples entomophages et insectes comestibles. Avignon: Etude sur les moeurs de l’homme et de l’insecte, Rullière Frères.Google Scholar
  2. Bodenheimer, F. S. (1951). Insects as human food. The Hague: W. Junk Publishers. 352pp.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bukkens, S. G. F. (1997). The nutritional value of edible insects. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 36, 287–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chavanduka, D. M. (1976). Insects as a source of protein to the African. Rhodesian Science News, 9, 217–220.Google Scholar
  5. DeFoliart, G. R. (1995). Edible insects as minilivestock. Biodiversity and Conservation, 4, 306–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. DeFoliart, G. R. (1999). Insects as food: why the Western attitude is important. Annual Review of Entomology, 44, 21–50.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dreyer, J. J., & Wehmeyer, A. S. (1982). On the nutritive value of mopanie worms. South African Journal of Science, 78, 33–35.Google Scholar
  8. FAO, WFP and IFAD. (2012). The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012. Economic growth is necessary but not sufficient to accelerate reduction of hunger and malnutrition. Rome: FAO.Google Scholar
  9. Ferreira, A. (1995). Saving the mopane worm: South Africa’s wiggly protein snack in danger. Food Insect Newsletter, 8(1), 6.Google Scholar
  10. Gobotswang, K. (1998). Determinants of the nutritional status of children in a rural African setting: the case in Chobe District, Botswana. Food and Nutritional Bulletin, 19(1), 42–45.Google Scholar
  11. Godfray, H. C. J., Crute, I. R., Haddad, L., Lawrence, D., Muir, J. F., Nisbett, N., et al. (2010). The future of the global food system. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 365, 2769–2777.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. Hardouin, J. (1995). Minilivestock: from gathering to controlled production. Biodiversity Conservation, 4, 220–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Illgner, P., & Nel, E. (2000). Geography of edible insects in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Geographical Journal, 166, 336–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kodonki, K., Leclerq, G., & Gaudin-Harding, F. (1987). Vitamin estimations of three edible species of Attacidae caterpillars from Zaire. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 57, 333–334.Google Scholar
  15. Luan, Y., Cui, X., & Ferrat, M. (2013). Historical trends of food self-sufficiency in Africa. Food Security, 5, 393–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mbabazi, M. (2012). Edible insects in eastern and southern Africa: Challenges and opportunities. Proceedings of the international scientific symposium on Biodiversity and sustainable diets united against hunger. 3–5 November 2010. Rome: FAO Headquarters.Google Scholar
  17. Mikkola, H. (1997). The use of wild foods in Malawi. Society of Malawi Journal, 50, 40–53.Google Scholar
  18. Morris, B. (2008). Insects as food among hunter-gatherers. Anthropology Today, 24, 6–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Motshegwe, S. M., Holmback, J., & Yeboah, S. O. (1998). General properties and fatty acid composition of the oil from the Mophane caterpillar, Imbrasia belina. Journal of American Oil Chemical Society, 75, 725–728.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Nnyepi, M. S. (2007). Household factors are strong indicators of children’s nutritional status in children with access to primary health care in the greater Gaborone area. Scientific Research and Essay, 2, 055–061.Google Scholar
  21. Nonaka, K. (1996). Ethnoentomology of the Central Kalahari San. African Study Monographs Supplementary Issue, 22, 29–46.Google Scholar
  22. Oberprieler, R. (1995). The emperor moths of Namibia. Hartbeespoort: Ecoguild. 91 pp.Google Scholar
  23. Owen, D. F. (1975). Man’s environmental predicament: An introduction to human ecology in tropical Africa. Oxford: University Press. 214pp.Google Scholar
  24. Pagezy, H. (1975). Les interrelations homme faune de la foret du Zaire. In R. Pujol (Ed.), l’Homme et l’Animal. Premier Colloque d’Ethnozoologie (pp. 63–83). Paris: Institut International d’Ethnosciences.Google Scholar
  25. Picker, M., Griffiths, C., & Weaving, A. (2002). Field guide to insects of South Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. 444pp.Google Scholar
  26. Quin, P. J. (1959). Foods and feeding habits of the Pedi. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Ramos Elorduy, J. (2009). Anthropo-entomophagy: cultures, evolution and sustainability. Entomological Research, 39(5), 271–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Roodt V. (1992). The shell field guide to the common trees of the Okavango Delta and the Moremi game reserve. Gaborone, Botswana: Shell Oil Botswana Pty Ltd. 110pp.Google Scholar
  29. Roscoe, J. (1965). The Baganda: An account of their native customs and beliefs. London: Frank Cass & Co., Ltd.Google Scholar
  30. SAS Institute. (2008). SAS users guide: statistics. Cary: SAS Institute.Google Scholar
  31. Scholtz, C. H., & Holm, E. (Eds.). (1985). Insects of Southern Africa. Durban: Butterworths. 502pp.Google Scholar
  32. Sekhwela, M. B. M. (1988). The nutritive value of Mophane bread—Mophane insect secretion (Maphote or Maboti). Botswana Notes and Records, 20, 151–153.Google Scholar
  33. Seleka, T. B. (1999). The performance of Botswana’s traditional arable agriculture: growth rates and the impact of the accelerated rainfed arable programme (ARAP). Agricultural Economics, 20, 121–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Silow, C. A. (1976). Edible and other insects of Midwestern Zambia. Studies in Ethno-entomology II. Occasional Papers V, Institutionen för Allmän och Jämförande Etnografi vid Uppsala Universitet. Almqvist & Wiksell, Uppsala. 223 ppGoogle Scholar
  35. Spielman, D. J., Hartwich, F., & Grebmer, K. (2010). Public–private partnerships and developing-country agriculture: evidence from the International Agricultural Research System. Public Administration and Development, 30, 261–276.Google Scholar
  36. Teffo, L. S., Toms, R. B., & Eloff, J. N. (2007). Preliminary data on the nutritional composition of the edible stink-bug, Encosternum delegorguei Spinola, consumed in Limpopo province, South Africa. South African Journal of Science, 103, 434–436.Google Scholar
  37. van Huis, A. (2003). Insects as food in Sub-Saharan Africa. Insect Science and its Application, 23, 163–185.Google Scholar
  38. van Huis, A., Van Itterbeeck, J., Klunder, H., Mertens, E., Halloran, A., Muir, G., et al. (2013). Edible insects: future prospects for food and feed security. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.Google Scholar
  39. WHO. (2013). Country profile: Botswana. Nutrition Landscape Information System (NLIS) indicator summary. (accessed 6th September 2013).

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Crop ScienceBotswana College of AgricultureGaboroneBotswana

Personalised recommendations