Hundreds of Chinese farms are rearing cockroaches to cure stomach diseases and treat compost waste, according to a media report.
Three billion cockroaches are eating 15 tonnes of kitchen waste each day to solve the long-time environmental problem of mountains of discarded food, according to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
According to Liu Yusheng, president of Shandong Insect Industry Association and an entomology professor at Shandong Agricultural University, cockroaches can cure oral and peptic ulcers, skin burns and wounds, and even prevent stomach cancer.
The number of cockroach farmers in Shandong alone has tripled to about 400 in the past three years, Liu said.
“There have been huge developments in cockroach breeding and research in the past few years,” he said.
In the southwestern city of Xichang in Sichuan province, a two-storey building breeding six billion cockroaches to be used in ulcer-curing drugs.
A centralised system keeps temperatures in the breeding rooms at 28 and 33 degrees Celsius (82 to 91 Fahrenheit), and manages conditions including the humidity, air flow, cleanliness and pressure.
Upstairs, a set of giant shiny metal tanks connected to the breeding rooms by pipes kill 6 tonnes (6.6 short tons) of cockroaches at a time with heat and extracts the essence from them.
Workers operating in aseptic rooms produce over 600,000 bottles of the healing potion each day, the report said.
“The effectiveness of cockroaches has been tested by the bodies of our ancestors and proven by lab experiments,” Geng Funeng, chairman of Gooddoctor Pharmaceutical Group, who owns such a facility, said.
Cockroaches and other insects including scorpions and centipedes have been ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years called Kangfuxin Ye, Geng said.
The potion has been made entirely from cockroaches. It can reportedly cure oral and peptic ulcers, skin burns and wounds, and even prevent stomach cancer. Patients can drink the potion to cure ulcers, and apply it externally to skin wounds, Geng was quoted as saying by the report.
Across the country, in the countryside of Shandong, hundreds of individual farmers are breeding cockroach eggs and selling the larvae to a handful of bigger companies engaged in drug manufacturing or kitchen waste composting businesses.
Their pioneer is Li Yanrong, founder of Qiaobin Agricultural Technology, based in Zhangqiu city. Its three billion cockroaches eat 15 tonnes – a quarter – of the city’s daily kitchen waste every day.
Waste composting by cockroaches is environmentally superior to traditional methods such as burying and burning, it is argued, because it does not create groundwater pollution, greenhouse gas or frustration among residents neighbouring landfill sites,” he said.