Madora shortage hits Mbare Musika, as insufficient rainfall blamed

Mangaliso Lawrence Kabulika

A SHORTAGE of madora/amacimbi has hit Mbare Musika in a development attributed to the El Nino induced drought that saw catchment areas producing very little of the delicious worms triggering shortages and the subsequent skyrocketing prices.

In his report on Mbare Musika commodity prices, Knowledge Transfer Africa chief executive officer, Dr Charles Dhewa revealed that a 20-litre bucket of madora was currently being sold for $US95 leaving consumers grappling with the unavailability of the edible worms.

Dr Dhewa emphasised the urgent need to address the sustainability of catchment areas, particularly in the light of the unpredictable weather patterns associated with El Niño.

“Demand for madora is extremely high, and the current shortage has caused a significant imbalance between supply and demand. The lack of sufficient rainfall in the catchment areas has directly impacted the growth and reproduction of the mopane worms, leading to a scarcity in the market,” he said.

He stressed the importance of conducting research to ensure a consistent supply of indigenous foods, safeguarding both the availability and affordability of these essential commodities.

“We must prioritise comprehensive research to understand the long-term effects of climate change on the catchment areas. This will enable us to develop sustainable strategies that can mitigate the impact of El Niño and ensure a steady supply of indigenous foods to meet the growing demand,” said Dr Dhewa.

Madora/amacimbi whose scientific name is Gonimbrasia belina is a species of moth found in much of Southern Africa, whose large edible caterpillar, the mopani or mopane worm, is an important source of protein for millions of indigenous Southern Africans.

They eat the leaves of mopane trees and in Zimbabwe are usually found in southern parts of the country such as Gwanda, Bulawayo Plumtree, Chivi, Mwenezi and Mberengwa.

Mopane worms are harvested in summer after they hatch. A good rainy season means high yields too. People pick them from the trees, remove water from inside before drying them in firewood ashes as a way of preserving them.

The cigar-sized caterpillars are highly nutritious, comprising 70 percent crude protein, 17 percent crude fat and 11 percent minerals on a dry matter basis.

They can also be a source of protein for livestock such as chickens, fish and pigs. The sun-dried mopane worms are milled and incorporated into feed as an inexpensive protein ingredient compared to more conventional protein sources.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) the mopane caterpillar is one of the best-known and most economically-important forestry resource products of the mopane woodlands in southern Zimbabwe, Botswana and northern South Africa.

It has been estimated that annually 9, 5 billion mopane larvae are harvested in Southern Africa’s 20, 000 square kilometres of mopane forest worth US$85 million, of which approximately 40 percent goes to producers who are primarily women from poorer, rural areas.

Research has found that mopane worms are not only good for eating from a nutritional standpoint, but they also may be key to maintaining the ecological balance of the dry bush they inhabit.

However, environmentalists are now concerned that the trade is becoming a threat to biodiversity. This not only leaves the land barren but also threatens the livelihoods of locals.

Climate change has also affected the availability of the worms. Experts believe the caterpillars are declining in the region due to rising temperatures.





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