Fighting malnutrition by canning caterpillars

More than 400km from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, in a small town called Somousso, more than a hundred women are working hard under shea trees, harvesting the caterpillars from these centuries-old fruit trees that abound in the region.

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It is a traditional activity in this part of Burkina during the summer season, when these little beasts - known as "chitoumou" - are consumed in large numbers. People consume it raw during the rainy season, which lasts three to four months.

A young engineer from the International Institute of Engineering of Water and the Environment, Mr Kahitouo Hien, however, has come up with the ingenious idea of preserving the caterpillars in cans.

His ultimate goal: To fight child malnutrition and poverty in rural areas, by creating a permanent nutrient resource that lasts beyond the winter season.

Packages containing 500g and 1kg of the caterpillars are being made for distribution in two major cities via groceries and supermarkets, under the commercial name "Toumou Delights".

ABDOULAYE TAO/L'ECONOMISTE DU FASO (BURKINA FASO)