Insect mass-rearing workshop by experts
SOLUTIONS to end world hunger and the destruction of our planet might lie in an unlikely place, in our tiniest and most overlooked sixlegged friends, the insects.
Just as cattle, fish or other livestock are reared in large numbers – such as for meat or dairy production – so, too, are insects reared for a variety of purposes, some of which are quite instrumental to our daily lives.
Sterile insect technique (SIT), for example, is a method used for reducing the number of agricultural pests by releasing laboratory-reared, infertile insects into agricultural environments, to mate with wild individuals, which will result in the production of infertile eggs, and thus no further progeny.
These programmes benefit our agriculture (such as citrus, and the table grape industry) and the economy by enabling the production of high quality fruit with less chemical insecticide input. This makes our fruit more marketable.
Biological control agents, or beneficial insects which feed on and kill weeds and pest insects, are an excellent replacement for chemical herbicides and insecticides.
Weed biocontrol agents for example are widely used in South Africa to clear out clogged waterways and other invasive alien plant infestations, especially in areas that are hard to access by other means.
Just as animal production is a science in and of itself, so, too, is insect mass-rearing a field which is growing and improving with the development of technological advances.
There is a growing demand for more sustainable pest control and protein production, and reduction of waste products using insect decomposers, even having butterflies replacing confetti at weddings.
The International Insect Rearing Workshop (IIRW), held annually at Mississippi State University, US, celebrated its 20th session in 2017. The IIRW served as a model for this first South African Insect Mass-Rearing Workshop.
Professor Des Conlong, of the South African Sugarcane Research Institute and Stellenbosch University’s Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, and Dr Elsje Pieterse of Stellenbosch University’s Department of Animal Science, are two of our most experienced and knowledgeable insect-rearing experts.
They attended the IIRW in November last year, and were encouraged by the founders to replicate the workshop and adapt it to our context.
A year later, from October 23-27, the first Insect Mass-Rearing Workshop was held in Stellenbosch, hosted by the IPM Initiative in the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology.
The workshop brought together 42 attendees from government, private industry and academia from five countries, with expertise ranging from biology, entomology and engineering to economics.
Twelve subject matter experts presented lectures on topics for scientifically based mass insect rearing, which included genetics, physiology, insect nutrition, insectary design, quality control, health and safety, and insect pathology.
To learn more or register for next year’s workshop, visit: http://www. sun.ac.za/english/faculty/agri/conservation-ecology/ipm/workshops/ insect-mass-rearing-workshop