The crickets are hatched in a small, dark room in one corner of the warehouse and are later moved into the ubiquitous black bins. Each batch is tracked by hatch date, and they are fed cassava leaves and branches from outside the warehouse, in addition to specialized feed that Nam developed with an animal nutrition professor.
The scale is immense: Each Jamaican field cricket grown at the farm weighs well under a gram, yet at full capacity, through harvests of nearly 10 million crickets, Cricket One can produce up to eight tons per month.
“When we started, we knew we wanted to do it on an industrial scale because, one day, crickets will become an alternative to traditional meat,” Nam says.
The environmental advantages of cricket farming were immediately apparent. Farming a similar number of cows or pigs would require vast amounts of space, and according to the FAO, 26 percent of the world’s ice-free land is already used for livestock grazing, while 33 percent of croplands are used for feed production.
Crickets also produce minimal waste and no foul odors, even in the millions. Additionally, Nam says they require 8,000 times less water than cattle.
Cricket One’s production model involves nine satellite farms, in addition to the main warehouse. Once the satellite farms are taken into account, nearly 18 million crickets are harvested monthly in this one tiny corner of Vietnam. These smaller farms are family-run and dotted around the surrounding countryside. We visited one owned by Dang Thi Thanh Thao, a public school teacher, and her husband, Nguyen Van Tien.
They maintain around 200 bins in a shed behind their house on a small plot of land, and they produce up to one ton of crickets per month. Nam and his team have been working with Thao and Tien for about a year: The company trained them to raise crickets, while also providing all of the necessary equipment and cricket eggs to get started.
Thao only makes about $250 a month from her salary as a teacher, hardly enough to get by while sending her oldest child to high school. By selling harvested crickets back to Cricket One, the family can make almost $2,000 in a good month.