3 min read

#38 - AI for insect farming

#38 - AI for insect farming

The growing challenge of farming crickets

Fueled by a growing interest in sustainable proteins, the insect farming market is booming. Insects are indeed a serious alternative to traditional animal protein, requiring less land, water, and energy for production.

The insect protein market is expected to grow 10x in the coming decade, from a meagre $350 million today to $3.7 billion in 10 years. This is a CAGR of more than 30%!

How big can the insect protein market become? (source)

But farming insects is not a piece of cake. An insect farmer’s hours are never 9 to 5. Insect production yields are highly affected by diseases, fluctuating temperatures or humidity, and even cannibalism.

Cricket farms lose on average 50% of their production.

As insect farms sprout up across the globe, a new ecosystem is taking shape, with its suppliers and services providers. For example, cricket farms typically hire entomologists to monitor environmental conditions and optimise yields.

An insect farm in every home?

Insects are already part of the traditional diets of 2 billion people around the world. They could be widely used for poultry and human consumption.

Natalie Duncan wanted to incorporate insects into her diet and decided to try to farm crickets at home. She kept failing – farming insects is harder than you think.

This is when she got her start-up idea! She decided to tackle the huge yield monitoring problem in the rapidly growing insect farming industry, using tech and AI.

"I was just trying to eat crickets." – Natalie Duncan.

Bug Mars, AI for insect farming

Bug Mars was launched in 2020 in Toronto, Canada, by Natalie Duncan (CEO) and Seth Hardy (CTO).

The start-up intends to replace cumbersome, costly and unreliable manual checks in insect farms with AI-powered software, computer vision and machine learning.

Various cameras and sensors continuously track temperature, air quality, pest invasion, hatching, number and sex of insects. The platform then provides the farmer with real-time feedback, predictive analytics and recommendations.

The Bug Mars solution can optimise insect health, decrease mortality rates and eventually improve crop yield. Arguably, every insect farm wants this!

The team announced their selection for Cohort 3 of the Canadian Cultivator Agtech Accelerator, a 12-week venture-backed programme that will help them accelerate their development in Canada and beyond.

Building on early partnerships and successful pilots, Bug Mars is now raising a seed round. Reach out to them if you're keen!

Thank you for reading!
Colin Rebel
LinkedIn / Twitter