Citizen Reporter
Reporter
2 minute read
26 Jul 2022
5:56 pm

Red tape hindering trade of mopane worms in southern Africa

Citizen Reporter

The study found that not much is known about the importation of mopane worms into South Africa.

Photo: iStock

A new study by the University of Cape Town (UCT) has found that regulations around the cross-border trade of mopane worms in southern Africa is often “cumbersome, confusing and debilitating” for impoverished individuals who wish to enter the trade.

The study conducted by Dr James Sekonya, UCT’s doctoral graduate, has called for the lessening of regulation on the trade of mopane worms, or masonja as they are popularly known.

Sekonya found that not much is known about the importation of mopane worms into South Africa as a business, which attracts harvesters and exporters from Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Cross-border trade of mopani worms

Sekonya said this cross-border trade is regulated through legal, informal, and traditional rules. However, harvesters, exporters and traders have to navigate the constraints that come with the regulations and take advantage of the gaps in the system.

“Significantly, the unintended consequence of using different regulatory approaches simultaneously forced the harvesters, exporters and traders to develop ways to adapt to the constraints and costs that were difficult to navigate,” Sekonya said.

Sekonya said due to the challenges in regulation, traders resorted to varying levels of informality in which people complied with the regulations only where no alternatives existed, or they were guaranteed to gain more benefits.

The study further states that influential, powerful, and wealthier stakeholders were less constrained by the regulatory duplications and overlaps in trade between Botswana and South Africa.

Sekonya also studied the impact of environmental change on mopani worms in Limpopo.

“It was during this research when I learned of the growing importation of mopane worms from Zimbabwe and Botswana. 

“I decided to dig deeper on this phenomenon but from a governance angle which I expected to be more prominent given the international borders that actors must cross to facilitate the trade.”

He further stated that globally there is a growing need to farm edible insects as they offer alternative protein compared to conventional meat.

However, commercialisation of these resources has a potential to spill over to the wild populations in contexts where commercial farming is not feasible.

NOW READ: WATCH: ‘Just try it’ – mopani worms a cheap and healthy form of protein