Desktop Cricket Farm

Unknown profit model, Unknown IP model, Market Shaping Phase, Open to new members
Grow your food on your desk, while at the same time leading a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.

The Problem

There are several conservation problems that we are trying to address, the main one being that of deforestation. Cattle ranching is responsible for 80% of current deforestation rates, affecting mainly developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America. 26% of earth's terrestrial surface is currently dedicated to livestock. The human population is expected to grow to 9 billion people by 2050 while livestock is said to increase 80% in the same time frame. Since 1988, the Brazilian Amazon has been cleared at a rate of 1.8 million hectares per year, equivalent to approximately 7000 football fields a day. This is detrimental to the biodiversity of species, especially because 50% of all plants and animals found on earth live in rain forests. Furthermore, trees and forested areas are integral in storing carbon and regulating climate. 20% of greenhouse gases are attributed to deforestation. That, combined with the fact that the livestock industry is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gases shows that this is one of the biggest threats we face today. Along with this, the livestock industry is responsible for 37% of all applied pesticides. Several studies have been undertaken to realize the negative effects of pesticides on biodiversity. It was found that in contaminated areas, there were 42% fewer species (mainly invertebrates) than in uncontaminated areas.

Our Proposal

Our proposed solution is to create a desktop cricket farm where the user will be able to breed their own crickets, cook with them and eat them. The goal of this is to try steer people away from land based proteins (cows, chickens, pigs, etc.) and get their protein from more sustainable sources. It has been long known that crickets (and other insect based proteins) are a much more sustainable source of protein than livestock. Crickets require only a fraction of the land of livestock - thus tackling the major issue of deforestation. Crickets also need 90% less water than cattle and can feed on kitchen scraps such as carrot ends as opposed to the vast alfalfa, corn and oat farms required to feed livestock (which further exacerbate the problem of deforestation and pesticide use). Crickets require zero pesticides or antibiotics and are organically grown. They contain many essential nutrients akin to land based protein but none of the harmful fats and cholesterol. Users will move away from land based proteins thus reducing the demand for livestock. This will mitigate deforestation and hopefully pave the way for reforestation efforts. We would implement our solution in the form of a desktop cricket farm kit. The kit comes complete with everything needed to start raising crickets (as well as recipes). It is designed to be low maintenance, requiring only a couple hours of attention per week. It will also be visually appealing and would thus make a welcome addition to any household.

We Assume that...

People are willing to try entomophagy as a diet.

People will be willing to spend an hour or two each week looking after the crickets.

Users have access to electricity to power the lights of the cricket farm.

By making the process of cricket farming visually attractive people will be more inclined to participate.

By making the farming process easy to do and accessible to people with varying levels of education and varying ages more people will be inclined to take on the project.

Because the product will be cost effective and easy to maintain the product will appeal to various economic brackets.

The inclusion of a recipe and user book will help the user see the long term potential of the project.

Constraints to Overcome

The largest barrier is that of cultural suitability. In a recent study, it was found that 76% of Americans would not even consider the idea of including insects in their diets. That being said, entomophagy (a diet including insects) has been present since prehistoric times and still continues today with an estimated 2 billion people across the world practicing it. Unfortunately, the main consumers of livestock (North America, Europe, Australia) are adamantly against entomophagy. This can be attributed to several reasons, most notably that insects are seen as undesirable and even taboo but also because there is no effort being made to change this attitude. The fact that insects are eaten across the globe shows that it can be a viable dietary choice if the right measures are put in place and efforts are made.

Current Work

We need to start interviewing potential end users to establish the potential scale of the product market. We would like to sell/ distribute 50 desktop cricket farms in our firs 6 months of production to act as a sort of sample group so that we can gather further information on how this product would work in the home. We would then conduct further interviews with the end users to determine if the Desktop Cricket Farm is viable. We will be refining our current design and looking at ways to incorporate an automated system to control the temperature and humidity in the tanks. We would need to spend a lot of time testing various automated systems. We will be conducting Life Cycle Assessments on the product to determine which materials are the most environmentally sustainable and thus what materials to use. We would also like to incorporate a business model where a certain percentage of profit goes to reforestation efforts. We need to start applying for funding for the project.

Current Needs

We are still learning about crickets, including; their life cycle, dietary needs, living conditions (temperature, humidity) and anything else we can find out. We still need to conduct more qualitative research and learn more from people already involved in research surrounding insects and sustainability. We need to learn a lot more on automated systems and look at how they are implemented in successful small scale farming to see how we could perhaps integrate such technologies into our project. We need funding in order to create prototypes of the desktop cricket farm. The money will go towards the materials needed for the trials of making and testing the physical product. We need guidance on establishing a business plan for the project as our current team has little experience in business and creating viable business models.