Exploitation, trade and farming of palm weevil grubs in Cameroon

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The larvae (grubs) of the African palm weevil are consumed by the majority of inhabitants of the Congo Basin. These larvae are extremely rich in essential food nutrients; they contain proteins, carbohydrates, fats and energy values comparable to those of beef and fish. They are also an excellent source of a range of minerals and vitamins. The exploitation and trade of weevil grubs is an important source of income for forest dependent communities in the Congo Basin. These grubs are currently harvested from raffia and palm stems in the wild. This study evaluates the sustainability of indigenous harvesting techniques, and investigates ways in which these insect resources could be farmed in Obout and Ntoung village areas. Results show that grubs are harvested by collecting them from naturally infested raffia stems (the traditional collection method) or by cutting and preparing healthy raffia stems for grub production (the semi-farming method). Both methods are unsustainable, as thousands of raffia stems are cut down on a monthly basis. To address this situation, a grub farming system has been developed within the course of this study. It has proved to be more productive and sustainable than both the traditional collection and the semi-farming methods. This farming system could be used to produce grubs at any time of the year, thereby providing an opportunity for year-round availability of these nutritious insects, while securing their place as an important alternative to protein and a valuable income source in Cameroon.

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