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Grasshoppers are finally here, mind your safety

I have seen a disturbing video of dead grasshoppers trending on social media. Apparently, someone used pesticides to trap this renowned delicacy. Really?

Why in the world would someone even think about such a callous act? When did we, Ugandans get here? What happened to humanity? Are you not duty-bound to protect your customers?

From a business perspective, I understand the troubles of getting the business numbers right in such a punctured economy. And most especially when many of these men and women trying to make ends meet can only rely on quite costly credit from banks and unscrupulous money lending sharks with conditional linear and exponential interests.

Trust me, I know a little bit about this. But we can surely try to be creative about how to maximise yields without putting the customers’ lives at risk. Traditionally, these grasshoppers were trapped with the help of smoke, which caused them to stagger into some strategically placed rusty barrels (eppipa).

This system attracted swarms of grasshoppers for harvesting of course with the use of bright flood lights and silver iron sheets (amabaati ameeru - like the ones shared by our ministers sometime back). Strategically, cassava flour was spread inside the walls of the barrels to ensure that the grasshoppers did not crawl out.

The harvest was for business and, yes, it was a big one. Enough was harvested for sale and a sizeable one left for domestic consumers whose children ate to their fill and left some nursing tummy aches from overeating. You may argue that the harvest then was massive because climate change had not yet messed up our lives. Granted.

But again, there must have been other deep-rooted challenges which these traders grappled with then. Every season with its own challenges. My argument is we can do clean business without harming innocent unsuspecting Ugandans. So, to whoever did and continues to do what we see in the video on social media, think again.

What you are doing is not only detrimental to the lives of your customers, but it also raises a lot of questions regarding your integrity and conduct of business. But again, you could as well celebrate the fact that the leaders who hold the duty to protect us from such evil are in slumber.

Otherwise, such actions would attract serious consequences. To fellow Ugandans, don’t look at this video with excitement. Have a second thought about the lives of your dear ones. If you have to eat grasshoppers, look out for the fresh ones, they are visible. These grasshoppers can be packed in gunny bags from Masaka to Kampala, and they arrive fresh because they breathe through spiracles.

To those who fry them, please grasshoppers have natural fats, you don’t need to dump them into cooking oil. I know some commercial vendors use cooking oil as a preservative. They will get fresh onions which will attract you because of that nice scent, but watch out.

In 2016 I visited a top musician in Uganda at his residence in Sseguku, who narrated an unpleasant ordeal of eating grasshoppers bought off the streets. Many of us make it a point to stop and feast on this delicacy brought close to us. He swore never to take them again. I need to check on him to ascertain whether he heeded to my advice.

Call me anything but my Nyendo upbringing cannot let me partake of these delicious insects from the street. Actually, whenever I yield to my cravings, I ensure they are bought and prepared by my mother, and I personally pick them from Masaka. So, as you enjoy this delicacy, please mind your life.

The vendors should strive to meet emotional needs and foster their relationship with the consumers for business prosperity and sustainability. If those plying grasshoppers have any leadership, the same should summon up the energies to prune out the wrong elements.

The grasshopper business is a lucrative one. I actually remember one of our neighbours used to cruise new vehicles and increase his number of concubines every season. Sad, he died in a motor accident. I come in peace to share this piece because of the untamed appetite and love for grasshoppers. No ill intentions. Safety first, no compromise!

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