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Brisk business for umtshiphela/ harurwa vendors

by Staff reporter
22 May 2021 at 18:57hrs | Views
SCORES of villagers in Bikita district in Masvingo province are making brisk business from selling edible insects - commonly known as harurwa/ umtshiphela (Encosternum delegorguei) – along the Masvingo-Mutare highway.

Harurwa is a sought-after insect in Bikita district and other parts of Masvingo province for its delicacy.

Following good rains which the country received this year, most parts of Bikita have had an unprecedented abundance of the insects. Apart from being a delicacy relish for the majority of households in the area, the insects also play an important cultural role.

As a Mutare ZUPCO-bound bus scratches to a halt for a recess at Nyika growth point in Bikita, women, and children holding dishes full of the insects above their heads swarm the vehicle shouting aloud; "Harurwa! Harurwa!"

The vendors say they were making enough cash to buy food at home from selling the insects. A cup of the insects costs US$1.

"I have been surviving through selling harurwa for a long time. I order the insects from people who harvest them from bushes and resell them to the locals and South Africa," said Mildred Shoko, a vendor at Nyika growth point.

Shoko said although harvesting of the insects was seasonal, the insects can be processed and stored for longer periods.

"Harvesting of harurwa is seasonal but we always make sure that our clients are constantly supplied. We preserve the insects by storing them in traditional clay pots," she said.

The insects are processed in their natural form by either grilling or frying. Other local species such as the nharara can, however, be eaten raw.

Another vendor, Simukai Gondo said he survived through barter trading the insects with grain and other commodities such as soap and cooking oil.

"Most of the areas where the insects are found are inaccessible by road. What I normally do is that during the harurwa season, I travel to these areas and barter trade the insects with grain and other commodities. For a 10 kg of mealie meal, I get a bucket of the insects," said Gondo.

He said he has managed to send his children to secondary school by selling the insects.

A traditional leader in the area, Gladman Murinye, said besides constituting an important daily diet for a large proportion of the Bikita community, the insects also play an important cultural role.

"Harurwa is such an important insect that it is also distributed as gifts to local chiefs. During harvest time, chiefs are supposed to brew traditional beer first before anyone harvests the insects.  There are some traditional rituals which are supposed to be carried out by the chiefs in bushes where the insects are found before anyone harvests them," headman Murinye, one of the custodians of a harurwa area, said.

"Some villagers have been fined beasts for breaching the traditional rules."

Source - newzimbabwe