By Petronella Marikita.
Few homes can claim not to have amacimbi in their kitchen cabinet food jars in Gwanda town and surrounding areas.
In fact, amacimbi – the local name for mopane worms – is a delicacy eaten in most households in the southern parts of Zimbabwe such as Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South Provinces.
The worms are also a favourite of many countrywide.
For generations, families in that southern parts of the country have enjoyed the seasonal delicacy in their plates.
Driving into Gwanda, the Matabeleland South Province capital, it’s not surprising to see bucket loads of mopane worms displayed on roadsides for sale.
After all, amacimbi provide a source of income for families that harvest the delicacy from mopane trees, which are scattered all over the province.
When the amacimbi season announces itself during the rainy season, communities besiege mopane trees in search of the worms, collect enough for consumption for months to come and sell the surplus for extra dollars in their pockets.
The local economy booms during the amacimbi season.
Twenty kilometres from Gwanda on the Bulawayo Highway, Great Dyke News 24 had an interview with an amacimbi vendor displaying the commodity next to the busy road.
“We sell in rand (South African currency), a full 20 litre bucket is R500 and the smaller containers cost R20 rand each,” said the woman who identified herself as Mrs. Sibanda.
Asked if business is good, Mrs Sibanda who sits on the roadside market with her two young children says some customers complain about her pegging the prizes of amacimbi in foreign currency but she has no choice because the local currency is fast losing value.
Gread Dyke News 24 also caught up with women that sell amacimbi in the high density of Jacaranda suburb in Gwanda town.
“Everyone in my family seems to be addicted to amacimbi. It’s a delicacy in the family and I make sure that I prepare them using different recipes,” said Mrs Mitchell Chapani.
Mrs Chapani has a special dish that she serves her family. And they love it.
“I boil the amacimbi then fry them in hot cooking oil until they turn crispy. I then add tomatoes and onions for extra flavour and my family enjoys the meal,” she added.
Nyasha Ndlovu, who says she has over five years harvesting amacimbi, believes the Covid-19 induced pandemic lockdown has had a negative impact on her business.
“I sell amacimbi in large quantities but we face a challenge because of the national lockdown. Now I try and advertise my products on social media so that people can place their orders and I deliver to their doorsteps,” said Ndlovu.
Disturbances in transport mean it is difficult to supply other markets such as Harare where the appetite for amacimbi is huge.