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Kitgum residents turn invading locusts into food

Kutansia Anena and her son with the boiled locusts

Kutansia Anena and her son with the boiled locusts

While the government is struggling to find an effective way of dealing with the dreaded desert locusts, the insects have turned into a blessing in guise for residents of Kitgum district in northern Uganda.   

The locals are now catching the locusts for food consumption. The latest swarm of desert locusts invaded Gogo and Abudere villages in Lukwar parish in Labongo Akwang sub-county, Kitgum on Tuesday evening. They settled overnight on tree branches and grasses covering a radius of more than three kilometers.    

Several residents spent the better part of Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning picking the locusts for food. Some have since fried the locusts for eating. Kutansia Anena, 60, a resident of Gogo village is one of those who caught several locusts and boiled them for food. 

Anena says locusts have been a source of food in the past. She says that she was also forced to catch them to supplement her diet because of food shortage owing to the poor harvests last year. She notes that the insects are first boiled and dried in the sun before being fried with cooking oil and served.  

“We boiled these insects for eating. When they come, they are caught, boiled, dried and fried before being served for children and even adults. We currently have limited food because of the poor harvest last year due to rains that returned late and destroyed all our crops,” Anena says.  

Christine Abalo, a resident of Gogo village and mother of five, says she decided to catch the locusts to taste its delicacy since elderly people told them they are edible. Like her colleagues, Abalo says the desperate move to catch the locusts was because of the food crisis in their family.

"Our elders told us that these insects were eaten in the past. We decided to catch them so that we taste them. We also supplement our diet because they were eaten in the past. There is food shortage at the moment because the crops have dried. This will help us in a short while. These insects are dried well and later fried before eating them." said Abalo.

Beatrice Alanyo, another resident says she caught two basins of locusts last evening and is still waiting for confirmation from the district leaders whether they are safe for consumption since government had started spraying them.   

"We caught these insects but we’re still trying to understand if they’re safe or not…At the moment we’re still afraid to eat them because we heard that they have been sprayed with chemicals. We’re still waiting to confirm if they are safe." said Alanyo. 

Locusts being dried for food consumption 

John Bosco Komakech, the Kitgum district vector control officer told URN in an interview that consuming desert locusts isn’t harmful and notes that the ones caught by locals hadn’t yet been sprayed. He, however, warned locals against consuming locusts from sites where they have been sprayed, saying the chemicals are dangerous for the human body. Komakech says people should eat the right amount to avoid constipation and abdominal blockage.

"I have seen very many they were eating those ones were [safe] but after spraying especially the ones that are down, those ones don’t eat them…If you caught them before spraying those ones we have no problem but eat with care, the more you eat them you can easily get problems." Komakech said. 

A team of Local Defense Unit (LDU) personnel led by Brig Gen Francis Chemo, the team leader locusts spraying in Acholi sub-region this morning responded to the locust invasion in the district. 

The team comprising of more than 20 LDU’s equipped with motorized and manual hand pump sprayers and chemicals arrived a few minutes to 10 am when the millions of locusts were already migrating.

Gen Chemo says his team responded late because they received information from the district late. The desert locusts, which left no destruction in Labongo Akwang sub-county, were this afternoon sighted migrating towards Padibe East sub-county in Lamwo district. Kitgum district local government approved a budget of Shs 780 million on Tuesday to aid the fight against desert locust invasion.


+2 #1 Sabiti 2020-02-19 22:39
Yes, locusts are edible. Catch and eat them. They are nice with pigeon peas and simsim paste.Ask people of Maracha district in Westnile; they are traditionally known for eating grasshoppers that look like locusts.
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0 #2 MR 2020-02-19 22:58
Now we see a greed corrupt gov't that doesn't listen to its people and their simple practices but rather looks for all avenues to make up budgets from which to steal money even if it means poisoning our food sources
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+4 #3 Lysol 2020-02-20 00:06
From day one I was posting my comments here, that locusts could be turned into eaten rich protein based food.

Many Asian countries eat insects(as delicacies) and even our so-called proud and arrogant Bagandas eat insects as delicacy (senene?).

In some pasts of the Northern Uganda, which the corrupt regime tried to wipe out of the face of the world, they always survive by eating insects and termites, based on the seasons(ngen?).

While the nomadic tribes(including M7's) roam around and live on flaturance dairy products. Not to mention that many black people are lactose intolerance.

Insects are rich sources of protein, The bIblical time has that prove for the survival of a nation and race.
One man's food is another man's poison. Rember!!!
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+1 #4 Wainanchi 2020-02-20 02:30
That is what I was talking.Senene is excellent source of proteinscabd theybcoupd be harvested and consumed This could turn to lucrative business Just go Uganda and harvest then.

Do not chase them away.!! Receoue...fryvthen with onions oil and chillies.Yum!!
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+1 #5 Apenyamoi 2020-02-20 11:15
When we were toddlers we were used to laugh at a saying, "killing a mosquito with a hoe!"

The zealousness with which government is determined to kill the locusts using expensive chemicals and ineffectual toys(drones) is not borne out of logic but a need to accountability under the "locust get rich scheme."

Its a bonanza plain and simple. Even when there is no evidence of the mass destruction they have been foretelling chemical spraying must go on.

I was amused when the UPDF soldiers on seeing the futility of the sprays opted for the bush fires! This is what they should have started with.

As Sun Tzu say, " The General must make several calculations in the head before entering into battle.1" Here it is apparent that we entered into the locust battle without method and sufficient calculations. It is a knee - jerk action.
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+1 #6 WADADA rogers 2020-02-20 13:21
Dangerous, very dangerous, lets not forget that some of these locusts were sprayed, they may not have died but the chemicals used to the locals are very deadly.
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