The Forestry Commission has partnered with various entities to set up mopane worm-rearing facilities in Matabeleland South Province to save mopane worms (amacimbi/madora) from possible extinction due to various factors.
Traditionally, mopane worms were harvested in December and April each year but due to overharvesting, uncontrolled cutting of trees, harsh weather conditions and pests, some areas are going for years without producing them.
A Gwanda villager, a Mr Sibanda, told the Chronicle that people have been coming from different areas to harvest the Mopane worms thereby threatening their existence. He said:
We grew up knowing that our area was an amacimbi area. Every April and December we knew that we would be harvesting them. Some, we would eat and some we would sell.
In the past, there wasn’t that much selling, but then we started having people coming from different areas to harvest amacimbi.
The more people came in to harvest amacimbi the more they became scarce. People became desperate to the extent that they would even harvest the small ones, leaving the trees bare.
Gradually, the population of the mopane worms declined to an extent where they started missing seasons.
We have mopane trees in our area, but we no longer have amacimbi every season.
In a bid to protect the caterpillars, two mopane worm-rearing facilities have been set up in Gwanda, with one established in Ward 15 through the assistance of the Southern Alliance For Indigenous Resources (SAFIRE).
The other facility is in Ward 21 and was established under the Government-led Insects for Nutrition Programme.
Forestry Commission Matabeleland South provincial manager, Bekezela Tshuma said:
The availability of mopane worms is under threat due to human and environmental factors.
We want to preserve and ensure their existence through these rearing facilities.
We put pupae in pupation beds where they can hibernate and come out as moths which will then lay eggs that become mopane worms.
If a lot of mopane worms are produced within the facility, then we can distribute them in the bush to enhance their production.
This will guarantee their continuous availability as they will be protected from predators.
We will also be able to monitor the harvesting process at the facility to ensure that villagers leave seed.
We will also distribute some mopane worms in areas where they have now become extinct.
Mopane worms are a popular delicacy across Zimbabwe. Amacimbi (Ndebele) of madora (Shona), can be snacked on dry, crispy fried, or cooked in a sauce of choice. | Chronicle