Haruwa: insects boost rural incomes

As a Mutare bound Maccopolo Mupfumi bus scratches to halt for a recess at Nyika growth point in Bikita, women and children holding dishes full of brown insects swarm the bus shouting “Harurwa! Harurwa!”

Headman Marimbe: people must observe cultural practises.
Headman Marimbe: people must observe cultural practises.

To the uninitiated passengers like myself, this is a new experience. I have never seen, let alone eaten, such insects in my life. One passenger seating next to me and familiar with the insects immediately placed an order for two dishes at $2 each.

“Just taste. They are a delicacy. They also have a lot of medicinal and nutritional value,” said my new-found friend. Reluctantly, I picked two insects and tasted. I was amazed. They had been grilled with no added fat and tasted delicious. These insects (Encosternum delegorguei) are one of the most sought-after insects in the area. Apart from being a food staple for the majority of households, the highly-priced insect is also an important source of income for locals.

“Since 2000, I have been surviving through selling harurwa.I order the insects from people who harvest them in the bushes and resell them,” said Nyasha Charumbira, a vendor at Nyika growth point.

Charumbira said although harvesting of the insects was seasonal, they could be processed and stored for long periods.

“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 species such as the Nharara can be eaten raw.

Another harurwa dealer, Jacob Zhou, said he survivedby bartering the insects for grain, soap and cooking oil.

“Most areas where the insects are found are inaccessible by road. During the harurwa season I go to these areas with grain and other commodities and do barter trade.For a 10kg of mealie meal,I get a bucket of the insects,” he said, adding that he has managed to send his children to secondary school through selling harurwa.

The insects also play an important cultural role.

“Harurwa is such an important insect that it is given as a gift to local chiefs .During harvest time, chiefs are supposed to brew traditional beer before anyone harvests the insects. There are some traditional rituals which are supposed to be carried out. Villagers have been fined beasts for breaching the traditional rules,” said headman Marimbe, one of the custodians of a Harurwa area.

The management of the forests in which harurwa are found is regulated by chiefs and a team of representatives of villagers in the area, which rotates every year.

Post published in: News

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