Locust-farming joins cockroach breeding as one of Guangdong’s biggest and some would say, ickiest, food trends. Recently, reporters paid a visit to Jiangmen city, Guangdong province to investigate why a group of former pig-farmers turned to locust breeding, Nandu Daily reported.
Mr Li, a locust breeder in his 60s, showed reporters three plastic tents where he raised locusts. One of them raised adults, the other two larvae. Two wooden shelves were respectively set in on the tent’s left and right sides, on which was stacked bunches of pennisetum purpureum. Li planted a lot of pennisetum purpureum near the tent to feed locusts. “Locusts love sweet grass. Pennisetum purpureum is the main food as it’s full of high protein, soft and juicy, easy to grow and most importantly, sweet. In winter, I feed them ryegrass and oatmeal as snacks.
In the two larvae tents, one had hatched black locusts, the other was expected to hatch baby locusts. Mr Li mixed locust eggs with wood chips, then put the mixture into 10 basins. The temperature in the tent showed 44 degrees celsius. “More than 30 degrees is the best. It’s too hot now, so I have to use water to cool down the tent. When the temperature goes down in autumn and winter, I have to heat up the tent instead,” Mr Li explained. Locusts don’t like cold conditions. Due to large drop in temperature last winter, many locusts froze to death, leading to a huge loss.
Mr Li, stressed that raising locusts is easier than raising pigs which have made him lose a lot of money in recent years. “The cost of raising locusts is much lower as they only eat grass. Their life cycle depends on the temperature, so it’s not very stable. But usually, 40 days is a life cycle in warm weather condition; while in cold weather, two to three months makes a life cycle.”
Mr Li’s three tents can produce four to five cycles. Only one tent can make 500 kg. Li Haiwen, the deputy director is also a locust breeder. According to him, a villager named Li Huoqiang started raising locusts after he watched a TV program about locust raising. At present, there are about a dozen pig breeders have converted to locust farming.
Li Haiwen added, “Locusts are more nutritious than drone pupa for it has rich protein. First you remove the adults’ wings, and then put them into hot water, upon which the locusts will defecate. After that, fry the locusts, add some peppers, onions and salt then a good dish is ready!” These days, Guangzhou business men purchase the locusts to re-sell as processed food. “The purchasing price goes up and down, but normally it ranges from 50 yuan to 100 yuan per 0.5 kg. Female ones are cheaper, while male ones are more expensive. ”
As Heshan, Jiangmen city is a poverty-stricken area, government has been trying to assist the local locust industry. Based on the footage taken by Guangdong TV, the helping group Yan Pinzhuo told reporters, “The cost to raise locusts is only 3000 yuan for building up a plastic tent and locust eggs. You can get what you paid for right after the first tent’s raising period.”
Hopefully, the farmers can make more money by selling the locusts in other places such as Wuhan…where there looks to be a big market.
By Lucy Liu
[images via Nandu Daily and Guangdong TV ]