Biology graduate finds success in cricket farming

Eco-Dudu Ranch Founder and CEO Cliff Henry Olal during the interview on June 20, 2024. 

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

You know crickets as tiny, noisy, nocturnal insects. But have you ever imagined having them on your plate as food? Before you gag, you might want to indulge Cliff Henry Olal, the CEO and founder of Eco-Dudu Ranch—a cricket farming enterprise.

When we get to his farm in Njiru, Kasarani constituency in Nairobi on a cold Thursday afternoon, Cliff offers us roasted crickets as welcome snacks. Roasted crickets were the first-ever products his farm produced.

Not only does he eat crickets, but he also has four pens that can keep 120,000 crickets when fully operational. The pens sit on a 20 by 50-foot brick and wood structure under controlled conditions (a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius and a relative humidity of 60 percent).

Eco-Dudu Ranch was not Cliff’s primary business idea.

“I started keeping crickets as a food source after I failed to secure a job after graduating in 2018. You could say, I was trying to keep hunger at bay. At first, I thought of venturing into poultry farming, specifically, spring chicken but I was unable to meet the capital requirements. But after seeing me eat crickets, my sister challenged me to make it a commercial venture and I took the challenge,” says the entrepreneur who graduated from the University of Nairobi with a Bachelor's degree in Biology.

In 2020, he enrolled in the three-month Somo Africa Business Accelerator programme where his pitch—cricket farming—emerged top of the class. From this, he got a $2,000 (Sh259,000 based on the current exchange rate) grant which he used to set up the farm.

“A relative allowed me to use this piece of land to set up my business since it was idle then. Later, after getting an additional $6,000 (Sh777,000) grant from the Give Work Challenge, I acquired the piece of land to avoid future disruption for my business.”

Eco-Dudu Ranch Founder and CEO Cliff Henry Olal during the interview on June 20, 2024.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

Initial investment

With this initial investment, Cliff got 30,000 cricket eggs in February 2021. Upon their maturity, he harvested 30 kilogrammes of crickets. Each cricket approximately weighs one gramme.

“They take 84 days to get ready for harvest. I feed them with weeds and use very refined chicken feed mixed with grass. I avoid using a lot of protein-based feeds as this might cause excessive growth in them and when this happens, the crickets burst,” he says.

Cliff’s main supplier of cricket eggs is the Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology. His interaction with the university, coupled with his classroom knowledge, he says, has given him a deeper understanding of cricket farming. His business skills, however, are self-taught.

“It is one thing to know a subject, it is another to create a business out of it. The market and the other dynamics teach you the business aspect of what you take from school,” he says.

The market

In the three years Eco-Dudu has been in business, they have harvested approximately 100,000 crickets. They harvest 75 to 80 percent of the crickets, leaving the rest for the continuation of the cycle until the 5th generation. A majority of the harvested crickets are roasted and sold. Cliff does this with a team of about 10 people that he contracts on a need basis. They package the crickets in small 20-gramme packages which they sell at Sh100. A kilo of roast crickets goes for Sh5,000.

“Our main target has been bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts who take proteins in large amounts. Part of our initial 70 clients initially used chemical-based supplements. After we introduced this concept and accompanied it with scientific evidence about the high amount of protein in crickets, we are seeing a great shift in preference for protein sources, especially in our immediate community,” he says.

Value addition

Cliff continues,“ In June 2023, we introduced cricket flour as our value-added product. This especially was to target clients that have difficulties in consuming insects in their whole form. Surprisingly, we are pushing more volumes of the flour in the market than we are pushing our roasted crickets.”

The flour is packaged in 250-gramme packs that go for Sh1,250 and the firm makes Sh1,000 in profit per kilogramme of the flour sold.

Eco-Dudu Ranch Cricket snack on display on June 20, 2024. 

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group


Even with the success, food cultures in the country have been their biggest headache.

“People’s belief about food is key in our kind of business. Many people in the country are from cultures where insects are not considered food. It is not easy to convince them to consider crickets even when you throw in the nutritional value card in the conversation. To change this, we spend a lot of time teaching our existing and potential clients about the benefits of consuming crickets.”

But the education campaign is beginning to pay off. Cliff says people are initially curious about the notion of eating crickets then they are intrigued and ask a lot of questions and some eventually make a purchase.

The other challenge they face is their lack of a processing facility for their two products.

“We don’t have a disc mill for making the flour and an industrial oven for the roasting. This has interfered with our Kenya Bureau of Standards certification process as one key requirement is to have an all-in-one production unit," he says.

They may overcome this challenge soon if the Angel Investor they have onboarded will invest in their venture.


Cliff has two key lessons from running Eco-Dudu, “Patience. Ideas, businesses, and everything you do requires a lot of patience. The other thing, the early days of your business require your presence. As the chief duty bearer, you carry the vision, you are the one to sell it to your staff and your clients. Your presence therefore is crucial if your business or idea is going to succeed,” he says.

As a cricket farmer, he says, a typical day for Cliff begins at 7am cleaning the cricket pens, adding or removing feed and drinking water.

Cricket eggs take approximately six to 14 days to hatch depending on the temp and humidity.

“After hatching they mature after 84 days. After which I often do lots of marketing in the gym at first since gym-goers have been early adopters as crickets are rich in protein. For my farm, I still outsource machinery when processing the crickets into powder,” he says.

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