Telecommunications giant Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East said Thursday it will trial the farming of edible crickets using artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies in collaboration with a firm that manufactures products containing the insects.

The trial, set to begin this month in cooperation with cricket product venture Gryllus, will take place at an NTT East testing facility in western Tokyo to address global food shortages amid predictions by the United Nations that the human population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

The project will utilize technologies aimed at reducing the need for manual operations, such as sensors that will optimize temperature and humidity to provide suitable conditions for the crickets to grow and AI screens that will monitor their health and check for abnormalities.

NTT East aims to support the growing edible insect industry in Japan. Bugs such as crickets are known to be rich in protein and highly sustainable, and firms such as the Tokushima Prefecture-based Gryllus are selling cookies and other items containing the arthropods that have been dried and pulverized.

NTT East is considering renting out idle office spaces in several parts of the country and converting them into cricket breeding centers.

It said it will eye making the breeding systems available for sale in the future if the project is successful.

The company said including sales of the breeding systems, its 2028 revenue could reach billions of yen.