Kenyan farmers turn to insects during drought
As eastern Kenyan farmers’ traditional crops wither, termite farming becomes the next best thing in protein production
The knee-high dome on Ikung’u Kathimbu’s farm in Weru village, eastern Kenya, shelters an unusual crop: a termite swarm. Kathimbu walks around the structure covered with banana leaves, drumming on a tin-like vessel and stamping his feet on the ground. "The noise is to make it sound like rainfall, so that the termites are tricked into coming out of the ground," he said. Farmers’ traditional crops have suffered here in recent years due to long periods of drought. Some farmers are taking up construction work to supplement their income, while others such as Kathimbu are harvesting insects whenever the rainy season is delayed. At this time of year, Kathimbu’s farm should be sprouting with a waist-high maize crop. But only wilting cassava stems populate the parched terrain. "Five years ago, I could store enough maize and beans to feed my family for seven months," said the father of six. "Now all my grain is depleted three months after the harvest, and only cassava is left." Kathimbu and h...