By Bulawayo Correspondent
SOME farm owners in Mopane worm rich Solusi area in Matabeleland South province are now barricading roads leading into their properties demanding entry fees from outsiders visiting the area to harvest the protein rich insects.
Scores of people from Bulawayo have taken advantage of the current lockdown to go and harvest the worms which are locally known as amacimbi.
The edible insects were discovered in Solusi and Khami areas on the outskirts of Bulawayo by the local villagers about two weeks ago.
NewZimbabwe.com Thursday visited the area and witnessed scores of amacimbi hunters in the areas.
Entrances to most farms were manned by youths in their twenties who were demanding “toll gate” fees from outsiders seeking to harvest the delicious worm from their properties.
“We charge US$1 or 20 Rands per person for one to harvest amacimbi in our area. We are not worried whether one has harvested anything or not,” said Prichard Ncube, one of the youths manning a farm along Solusi road.
A resettled farmer who refused to be named said during the peak of the worms last week, he collected between US$50 and US$75 every day.
“Since Christmas period, I have been making a lot of money from amacimbi toll gates. I intend to use some of the money towards improving my farm. I have a problem with amacimbi poachers who are destroying the Mopane worm trees,” he said.
Because of the economic hardships facing many urban people, there has been tremendous shift from harvesting the worms for subsistence to trading them in both rural and the more lucrative urban markets.
This trend has however created a lot of environmental problems as a lot of people have set up makeshift amacimbi processing camps in surrounding bushes where they are using firewood to dry them.
A 20-litre bucket is currently being sold for US$25 or 375 Rands with the price set to go up as demand increases when the worm population starts diminishing.
A lot of people including professionals such as nurses, teachers and have joined the amacimbi rush.