Income from the sale of Mopane worms popularly known as amacimbi is set to cushion many villagers in rural Matabeleland South at a time when the country is under the 30-day revised Level 3 Covid-19-induced lockdown.
The green gold is found mainly in Matabeleland South districts of Beitbridge, Gwanda, Matobo, Bulilima and Mangwe.
Amacimbi are harvested two times in a year – in April and December – subject to the availability of rains.
The December harvesting season, which is usually shorter than the April one, has just ended.
A number of villagers in Matobo and Mangwe sacrificed the festive season festivities to harvest the delicacy.
When CITE visited Mangwe in December, villagers from areas such Khalanyoni, Hobodo, Maninji and other villagers had gone camping to harvest amacimbi in the Tshizi bushes close to the Botswana border.
Villagers organised themselves in groups and then hired a malayitsha (transporter) who charges 5litre bucket of amacimbi for a single trip and 10-litre bucket a return.
Some even spent the Christmas and New Year days in the bush harvesting the delicacies.
Now that the harvesting has ended, some villagers have started marketing their product.
A 20 litre bucket full of Mopane worms is fetching between ZAR400 and ZAR600, while a cup-full is sold at ZAR10 or more.
“Most people are still holding on to their Mopane worms as they would want to sell later at a higher price when the commodity would have become scarce,” said Thenjiwe Nleya of Hobodo,
“For those who want to buy and resell in town, I think this is the time to do so, because amacimbi are plenty among the people. If you are lucky you can get them at a give-away price of ZAR350 because some people are starving.”
Some villagers have in the past managed to pay school fees, buy livestock and food from amacimbi sales.
“The goats that I have, bought them after selling a sack of amacimbi,” said Thethelani of Maninji.
In the past seasons, there have been complaints about people coming from as far as Masvingo to harvest amacimbi in Matabeleland South prompting traditional leaders to intervene.