People around the world spend almost $40 billion (R397bn) a year on pesticides. And no other insect bothers the average person more than the cockroach.
But a few Chinese farmers are cultivating cockroaches by the million as part of a profitable business venture. As the Los Angeles Times reports, there are about 100 farms in China, raising more than 10 million cockroaches.
The unusual industry is largely unregulated, and most cockroach farmers operate under the radar. They say the government allows them to operate freely as long as they keep a low profile. In other words, they don’t want millions of cockroaches to flee from farms, as happened in August.
Demand for the little critters comes from cosmetic companies, which use them as a source protein, according to the Times.
And in May, the UN encouraged more people to consume insects for food, saying they are an inexpensive source of protein and could be a viable solution to world hunger.
Cockroaches have also been used for ages in Chinese medicine.
Farmers like Wang Fuming tend to cultivate the American cockroach, which can fetch up to $44 a kilogram. He says he considered raising pigs, “but the profit margins are very low. With cockroaches, you can invest 20 yuan (R32) and get back 150 yuan.”
His overhead consists of a converted chicken coop, egg cartons for the roaches to hide out and a diet of potato and pumpkin peels from restaurants. – Daily Mail