The caterpillar-New weapon against malnutrition and poverty

150228 dried caterpillar

Starting this September, the Fasopro workshop will debut the first canned caterpillars in Burkina Faso, “Toumou Delights.” It is the initiative of a young Burkinabe engineer, Kahitouo Hien. The process is on its way.

More than 400 km from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, in a small town called Somousso, more than a hundred women are working hard under the shea trees. They harvest the caterpillars from these centuries-old fruit trees that abound in the region. A traditional yet ongoing activity in this part of Burkina during the summer season is the food consumption of these little beasts in large numbers. What these women do not know is that their destiny, and those of their families, are about to change thanks to the initiative of a young engineer from the International Institute of Engineering of Water and the Environment (2IE).

Kahitouo Hien had the ingenious idea of preserving the caterpillars in cans, a method of transformation and conservation that extends their period of consumption, stabilizes prices and increases production. His ultimate goal: to fight child malnutrition and poverty in rural areas. The engineer wishes to create a permanent nutrient resource containing 63% protein that lasts beyond the winter season and the labeling of the local product.

 Women – the first project beneficiaries

For two years, the gatherers of the fresh caterpillars have been involved in the Fasopro project born in the business incubator of 2IE. Starting this rainy season, the harvesting of caterpillars will provide them with additional income security. They will devote over three months of their time for this. Payment terms have been settled in advance. Fasopro has promised to buy their harvest unpackaged and by the kilogram, a method which benefits the gatherers. Currently on the market of Bobo-Dioulasso, a standard box (about 3kg) costs between 600 and 700 CFA francs. Once boiled and dried, the standard box trades for around 2,000 F CFA at this period in July

Ms. Alima Ouedraogo is one of the women coordinating the Somousso collection centre which includes five villages (Somousso, Bare, Piére, Yegueresso and Sare). In its stores, 1.3 tonnes of pre-treated caterpillars wait for processing.

Ms. Ouattara, owner of the agroecologic farm Guiriko, coordinates the union of women’s groups engaged in this activity. Their mission: to gather the 10 tonnes needed to start the pilot phase. For this, they regrouped into associations to sort the correct species and to pre-condition them according to the technical standards provided by the developer.

The fruits of their collection will be transported to Ouaga then processed at the Fasopro collective. It is a lucrative activity that delights Bintou Kawane. “For 10 years I have been in this business but it was informal. We were collecting and selling in commercial areas in the city. This year, we organized as collectors and integrated into the Fasopro processing chain. It is a new approach that benefits us and we earn more money with this new structure. My children and I collect together and sell to the organization. Last week, we received 22,500 FCFA. This income allows us to prepare for the new school year and to purchase starters for our vegetable cultivation. ”

A dream come true

Kahitouo Hien has a degree in biochemistry from the University of Ouagadougou where he entered the International Institute of Engineering for Water and the Environment (2IE) in Ouagadougou. It is in this institute that the future environmental engineer will attempt to fulfill his childhood dream: to implement a project to transform the shea caterpillar. The worm’s habitat is located in the west of the country where people consume it raw during the rainy season which lasts 3 to 4 months. Hien’s project matured in the “hatchery” of 2IE where modules on entrepreneurship make up a third of the training for engineerings.

Thus the project took shape to be made public at the Global Social Venture Competition at Berkeley in 2012. This high-impact social project snatched the second prize. Since then, he has gained public support through fundraising organized by the Kiss Kiss Bank Bank website. The product is attractive mainly for its social impact. It creates income for women in rural areas and, most importantly, a local product that goes beyond its origin through value added by the label “Toumou Delights.”

Excerpt taken from

Abdoulaye Tao



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