Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Challenging preconceptions of food worms

They are not only delicious, but nutritious, to be eaten in a sustainable way – and some are even reputed to be gluten-free

How would you define a mealworm? Every person uses the word differently – it is always used as an adjective or a noun. We use it as a noun to describe food made from insects, such as mealworms. We also use it as an adjective to describe meals made from insects – usually a delicious amount of insects.

What is Ynsect?

It is the world’s leading seed company. Through deep knowledge of every plant, we create effective and innovative seeds for the future. Ynsect started in 1998 in Khartoum, Sudan, and moved to Dubai in 2000, after Saudi Arabia and the UAE. We established sales offices in countries such as Nigeria, Philippines, Bangladesh, the US, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, Ukraine, India, South Africa, Thailand, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Egypt, Switzerland, Australia, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, Turkey, Israel, the US, Turkey, China, and Japan.

Can you describe the evolution of what you do over the years?

At Ynsect, we believe in communicating science and technology in a way that is broad and understandable. Our website has many illustrations and provides a visual view of how seeds create a nutritious food.

After gaining an understanding of the sources of conflict in Africa, we started to invest in communities who are involved in agricultural production, including the Niger delta. Over the past decade, we supported hundreds of smallholder farmers and research facilities.

When were you first bitten by the bug?

When I was 14, and discovered to my dismay that my brother hadn’t introduced me to insects. I was fuming.

What is the best mealworm recipe you have tasted?

Mealworms in stew can be made from a mixture of 10kg of mealworms, a portion of red rice, parsley, a flavoured butter, a mixture of vegetables and flour, and a small portion of chickpeas. A stew can be prepared in around four hours.

What do you wish you’d known when you were starting?

To stay focused, to think outside the box and to develop relationships with potential partners. Having experience of being a startup, being an entrepreneur as well as an agricultural scientist, I’m always looking for a good business partner to grow Ynsect together.

Are you aware of your impact?

I am constantly monitoring how our seed company makes a difference in the world. I receive excellent feedback from people who are grateful for our seeds.

What is your top tip for farmers?

One way to nurture a crop is to plant it throughout the season from start to finish. So when crops go to market, they are ready to be sold.

What is it like working in rural Egypt?

I usually visit villages to see how farmers manage their farms. The one-day visits help me to understand the importance of farming in these local cultures and see how Ynsect can better support farmers.

What do you most want to achieve?

I would like to see Ynsect and its members utilise our community outreach to achieve Sustainable Agriculture’s objectives. We are dedicating our energies to spreading the cultivation of insects by encouraging people to cultivate them. Some people do not have access to training or education about farming, so we must make sure that our values are brought to them as well.

Who do you most admire and why?

I admire many people, however, two people who have inspired me recently are the founders of Ynsect – Wadie Abeid and Mohammed Al Sharif. They came to Ynsect to formulate new seeds and establish a new seed company. They established a significant business and are paving a new industry for themselves.

What is the future of seed ownership?

Ynsect is committed to the ecosystem which surrounds seed and biodiversity. We believe the sustainable use of seeds is the only way to ensure food security and provide a solution to food insecurity.

Tempted to crawl under a bed, back in the pit of your stomach?

To cater for diets that are healthy and high in nutrition, there are insects prepared as sources of protein that are not just delicious but nutritious. Some insects, such as mealworms and worms, are also reputed to be gluten-free.

What is Ynsect’s unique selling point?

Ynsect develops high-value, high-performance, high-efficiency seeds for seeds and has an incredible reputation in the seed industry worldwide.

How to get involved

Who – if anyone – would you advise to help you form your new vision for Ynsect?

If you are a young innovator, you can join

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