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Locusts not safe for human consumption - minister

A woman drying locusts

A woman drying locusts

The state minister for Agriculture Aggrey Bagiire has cautioned Ugandans against eating of desert locusts, saying they have been sprayed with poisonous chemicals capable of causing health complications and even death in humans. 

The minister issued the warning during an interface with the media in Nakapiripirit in northern Uganda following reports that residents in parts of Acholi, Teso and Karamoja had turned the migratory pests into a delicacy.

Logwe Logira, a resident of Moroto district said that desert locusts are edible like grasshoppers, a seasonal delicacy for many communities across the country. Paul Longole, another resident from Moroto said that the locusts were eaten in the 1960s when they last invaded Uganda.

But Bagiire said that eating desert locusts is not conceivable and should be discouraged all over the country. Residents of Kitgum have been harvesting the locusts for food following poor harvests last year. But Bagiire said the country was food secure and therefore needless for the communities to eat desert locusts.

The minister, however, assured the public that the government has taken all safety considerations on the environment and, agriculture and public safety during ongoing operations to eradicate the locusts out of Ugandan territory.

Recently, Dr Muo Kasina, the chairman of the Entomological Society of Kenya has said the locusts are rich in proteins and advised Kenyan nationals to dry or fry them for purposes of nutrition. 

“These locusts are edible and besides the aerial spray that the government is doing, people should start harvesting them and eat them with ugali [posho]. They are rich in proteins which is a constraint in the country,” Mua is quoted saying by the Kenyan press.

The same breed of locusts is reportedly eaten in Israel, where they are breaded and fried or covered in molten chocolate to create a ‘healthy and tasty’ snack.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd