The outbreak of mopani worms has continued to see hundreds of people flocking into Matabeleland South Province to harvest the commodity either to feed their families or sell to urban markets as well as outside the country.
The Forestry Commission says the harvesting and sale of mopani worms in Matabeleland South province is expected to generate more than half a million dollars this season.
The commission’s provincial extension manager Mr Bekezela Tshuma said a total of 400 tonnes of mopani worms have so far been harvested in Gwanda, Beitbridge, Matobo, Bulilima and Mangwe.
Gwanda district has the highest output of 18 000 buckets.
When the ZBC News visited West Nicholson area, trucks and buses were seen dropping off people coming from as far as Harare, Beitbridge, Mberengwa and Mwenezi for the worms which are harvested seasonally.
“We are coming from Mwenezi to gather mopani worms because we need money to pay for our children’s school fees. There is nothing we can do since there are no jobs,” said one harvester.
The local communities are however not happy that the mopani worm harvesters who erect temporary shelters in the bushes are creating numerous environmental challenges while criminals are taking advantage of the season to steal cattle.
“Our village is an open defecation free zone but these harvesters create make shift shelters in the bush and relieve themselves there. When our cattle eat their waste they develop disease,” said Gogo Mandlovu.
Insiza South constituency legislator Cde Malachi Nkomo revealed that the district has experienced an abundance of amancimbi this year saying there is need to ensure that communities are linked to lucrative markets.
“For our communities, mopani worms have become a reliable source of livelihood and what we need to do is ensure they accrue maximum benefits from this resource,” he said.
It is estimated that a bumper harvest of 500 tonnes of mopani worms were collected in 2017, from areas that include Beitbridge, Bulilima, Gwanda, Matobo and Mangwe districts.