Silkworm - An Alternate Source of Protein


The current world population is 7 billion and we are in need of 80 per cent of food to feed the world population. But available sources of food and water is around 30 per cent and 50 per cent estimated by FAO and the number of people suffering from hunger goes on in an increasing note day by day. Though remaining population is meeting their food requirement the question of how good the quality of food they receive arises. This article deals with the importance of protein in human diet and how silkworm acts as an alternate source of protein.


Proteins are essential for the growth and development of a body (muscles and tissues) and one gram of protein gives 4.0 k cal. It provides amino acids necessary for the formation of enzymes, blood protein and certain hormones of protein in nature and supplies energy for body function. They play an important role in many bio- chemical, bio-physical and physiological process in the body .


Silkworms one of the widely domesticated insects are an important source of dietary protein. Silkworm pupae are consumed as food because it feeds on fresh mulberry leaves and serves as an excellent dietary protein .It's serving is 43.6 calories with 35 grams of protein .It is a power house. Mostly silkworm is preferred as a food in many Asian countries viz., Korea, Japan, Russia, China and Thailand.

Many Entomologist performed many studies to evaluate the nutritional value of silkworm pupae (Bombyx mori). The percentage of total protein and lipid content by dry weight were 55.6% and 32.2 % respectively. Silkworm protein had high levels of essential amino acids such as valine, methionine, phenylalanine. The contents of essential amino acids in silkworm pupae protein satisfied the FAO / WHO / UNU suggested requirements.

In addition they also possessed n-3 fatty acids especially alpha-linolenic acid (36.3%) as a major component. It contains high protein content of 55g whereas the requirement of protein for male/day is 53g and for female is 43g. It also contains fat 85g, fibre 6g, carbohydrates 25.43g and it is also rich in mineral and vitamins composition. This suggests that silkworm pupae are a new source of high quality protein.


According to Malthus theory-world population is increasing in geometric progression and the food production is increasing in arithmetic progression. Nowadays food production is declined and we are unable to meet the requirement of world population as it is increasing in a faster rate.
As agricultural land has been shrunken, food production cannot be increased further. Therefore insects like silkworm and many insects have been consumed in many parts of developing countries because of its excellent dietary protein. So insects can be used as an alternative way in case of food we eat daily. Moreover silkworm is reared in abundant manner and it is present in adequate amount to meet the protein requirement of human beings than cereals and pulses. Because of its high calcium content silkworm is an excellent source for gravid females. Silkworm helps gravid female to produce strong healthy eggs. Because of these reasons, especially their nutritional value and low fat content, silkworms are building strong demand.


Insects have played a very important role as a source of food in the history of human nutrition, especially in developing countries. The consumption of insects like silkworm has been documented in Japan, Thailand, Africa, Russia, China etc where they represent a chief source of good quality protein. Being soft and easy to swallow it can also be given as a feed to pet animals as silkworm does not harm those animals. Thus instead of waiting for the Agricultural production to be increased, silkworm can be used as an alternative way of food as it meets the protein which plays a key role in every humans life.

About Author / Additional Info:
Assistant Professor In Sethu Bhaskara Agricultural College and Research Foundation