MANGWE Rural District Council in Matabeleland South Province has issued drastic measures to mopane worms (amacimbi/ madora) harvesters which will see outsiders no longer allowed to harvest the popular delicacy in areas under its jurisdiction.
Individuals who intend to harvest amacimbi should have a valid permit from the council while traditional leaders and council employees would be monitoring them while ensuring that there would be no pollution of water bodies and destruction of vegetation during harvesting of the popular delicacy.
These measures by the council aimed at commercialising the harvesting of mopane worms in the area, came after the approval of its draft by-laws by the Ministry Local Government and Public Works in terms of Section 90 of the Rural District Councils Act (Chapter 29:13).
According to the new laws the harvesting and processing of mopane worms shall be a preserve of the locals and no person shall harvest and remove mopane worms from the council area unless one has been granted permission to do so and complies with the terms and conditions of such permission.
Mangwe Rural District Council emphasized that it shall be an offence for any local to accommodate an amacimbi non-permit holder from outside the district and all mopane worms harvested or purchased shall be forfeited to the local authority.
“The harvesting, degutting, cooking, salting and packaging of amacimbi shall only be a benefit for the locals.
“Any person or organisation interested in buying mopane worms from the Council area shall be allowed to do so provided they have a permit issued in terms of the by-law by the said Council at a fee prescribed by the Council on its annual budget.
“Any person or organisation or an association of persons wishing to buy amacimbi and take the resource out of the district, shall apply to Council for permission to do so. Any person or association shall obtain a seasonal harvesting/ buying permit at a fee prescribed in the council budget.
“On receipt of an application in terms of subsection (3), the Council may (a) grant written permission to the applicant to harvest/ buy amacimbi from a specific area of choice, subject to these by-laws and to such terms and conditions as the Council may specify in the permission (b) refuse to renew the permit if during the tenure of the previous permit the permit holder breached any conditions of the permit,” the by-laws reads in part.
Permission granted in terms shall remain in force for only one harvesting season which is December or April of every year.
“No permit shall be given to cover two seasons. A permit shall be issued only when the mopane worm is available for buying in that particular season. A permit shall be given to a buyer after having paid a prescribed fee stated in the Council’s annual budget”.
In addition the council emphasized that there shall be a trading centre for mopane worms when the resource has been fully processed, for amacimbi buyers to bid “Only the mopane worms that have matured shall be harvested. The harvesting of amacimbi shall be done in a sustainable manner, without the destruction of the trees. It shall be an offence for the harvesters to fell down trees so as to collect amacimbi from high trees.
“Offenders shall be fined by Council as per the schedule of fines in the annual budget. Any person who contravenes any provision of these by-laws shall be guilty of an offence and be liable to a fine as prescribed in the council current budget,” further reads the by-laws.
The by-laws came at a time when the district has always been inundated by people from various parts of the country who have been harvesting the worms while employing poor methods of harvesting.
Mopane worms are part of the common Zimbabwean diet and a highly sought-after product mainly in Europe.
In 2020 ZimTrade, conducted an assessment of mopane worms’ export potential and advised that the product was one of the low-hanging fruits Zimbabwe could easily exploit without much investment.