Cosmetic companies use cockroaches as a source of protein and for a “cellulose-like substance” from their wings, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In May, the United Nations 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. In fact, medical researchers in China are conducting tests on cockroaches, saying they could be used in treatments ranging from cancer to AIDS and even for hair loss.
Cockroaches as health threat
There may be no other insect that bothers the average person more than the cockroach. People around the world spend nearly $40 billion annually on pesticides to exterminate insects, including cockroaches.
Of course, cockroaches – whether German, American or Oriental – pose a health threat as scientists have identified a correlation between cockroach presence and the incidence of asthma.
A study conducted in 2005 by the United States National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) showed that among inner city children, cockroach allergens worsen asthma symptoms more than other triggers.
In spite of this finding, a few Chinese farmers have taken a radically different approach: rearing millions of cockroaches as part of a profitable business venture. The Los Angeles Times reports that there are about 100 farms in China, raising more than 10 million cockroaches.
Most cockroach farmers operate somewhat under the radar. They say the Chinese government is aware of their existence and is allowing them to operate freely as long as they do not become high profile.
In other words, they do not want millions of cockroaches to suddenly flee from local farms, as actually happened in what spectators called “The Great Escape” in August.
Farmers smile to the bank
Cockroach farmer, Wang Fuming, 43, said of the bugs, there is “nothing to be afraid of.” Farmers like Wang tend to cultivate the American cockroach, which the Times says can fetch up to $20 per pound.
“I thought about raising pigs, but with traditional farming, the profit margins are very low,” Wang said. “With cockroaches, you can invest 20 yuan ($3.25) and get back 150 yuan ($11).”
Raising cockroaches is also a relatively inexpensive venture. Wang says his overhead consists of a converted chicken coop, empty egg cartons for the roaches to hide out and a steady diet of potato and pumpkin peelings thrown out by nearby restaurants.
“People laughed at me when I started, but I always thought that cockroaches would bring me wealth,” Zou Hui, 40, told the Times about her career shift into cockroach farming.
And while Zou is not taking in millions, she is making a steady income from her efforts. In fact, she has been so successful that her local province gave her an award as an “Expert in Getting Wealthy.”
“Now I’m teaching four other families,” Zou said. “They want to get rich like me.”
Respondents were hesitant when asked whether they could try their hands on farming cockroaches considering its reported lucrativeness. “Well it depends. If I have to do it, there has to be justifiable pay,” said a man who did not want his name in print.
Another man in his mid 30s was more daring in his response. “Some of our country men work in morgues overseas. Which is better, farming cockroaches or dressing corpses?”
However, some said for all the money the business may fetch, they will never imagine anyone doing it let alone themselves.
“It is nauseating; it is disgusting and it is demeaning. It is another filthy lucre. If anybody needs such money, that must be Chinese only,” one riposted.
Culled from The Niche