And without an irrigation system in the area, a year of drought could spell disaster for farmers. "Crickets," he says, "are less risky."
To boost their business, the village cricket farmers have formed a loose cooperative to share information and facilitate marketing. They also receive help from local authorities and Khon Kaen University, a major center for research on edible insects and efforts to export them, developing products like crickets with Mediterranean herbs and bamboo worms flavored with sour cream.
British businessman Graeme Lee Rose and his Thai wife have seen their own export business to Europe, the U.S. and Australia grow in recent years, especially for cricket powder used in energy bars and biscuits. Still, best sellers for his JR Unique Foods remain novelty items like chocolate-covered scorpions and four-bug kebabs.