Zimbabwe has potential to earn significant revenue from exports of mopane worms to Europe where they are highly sought after, an official has said.
The caterpillars feed primarily on mopane tree leaves but can also do so on other tree species.
When harvested and dried, mopane worms can be eaten raw as a crisp snack or alternatively can be soaked to re-hydrate and then deep fried until crunchy.
The country’s trade promotion body, Zimtrade has since commissioned studies into what was required for exporters to penetrate the lucrative European market.
Zimtrade chief executive, Allan Majuru said mopane worms’ potential export is one low hanging fruit Zimbabwe could easily exploit quickly and without much investment to diversify exports.
“There are things where we have a comparative advantage but are not making use of – macimbi (mopane worms), in Europe (it) has become a hit as one of the highest sources of protein,” he said.
“We are in the process of establishing and understanding the rules and regulations in order for us to export macimbi to Europe because they are highly sought after as a source of protein.”
Majuru said Japan, from initial indications, was also a potential export market for the product.
Currently, Zambia was exporting mopane worms to Europe, he said.
Mopane worms, known locally as macimbi or madora, are rich in various nutrients, according to food experts.
Some even argue that the nutrient levels in the worms are three times higher than that in beef.
Market surveys, he said, had indicated that baobab powder, Moringa products, and round nuts and agro-processed food were also potentially big foreign currency earners for the country.
Those wishing to export the products, he said, must first of all make contact with buyers and can be assisted by Zimtrade to ensure they follow set production guidelines for their product to be accepted in the target markets.
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