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Inside Uganda’s centuries-old love for eating grasshoppers

Uganda's thriving grasshopper market will stun you

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The rainy season in Uganda from March to May and October through to November animates the grasshopper eating culture in this East African Country more than anyone could ever imagine.

Ugandan love for grasshoppers is immeasurable; it is a delicacy that has found a special place in the hearts of the Baganda people. Whether boiled or deep-fried, the love for it and taste never falters even for a minute.

Masaka region in Uganda is credited with this tradition having been the first region where a grasshopper industry was set up in the formative years. It was a forested area which was turned into a farming land but this culture has since spread to other places in Uganda.

When the rains kick in, young men set out to the country’s stadium covered by lush grass where they set up their tools of the trade and begin their operation of catching grasshoppers in their thousands.

This operation involves the use of blindly bright light, and non-luminous objects to lure grasshoppers to the lights.

Qarish Katongole, one of the most-sought grasshopper trappers told the BBC that they are in for it after a moment of heavy rains hitting the ground as the green grasshoppers and some slightly brown-coloured grasshoppers come out in large numbers.

“When the season starts, we watch the cycle of the moon, and prepare. [They tend to come out at full moon]. We also keep hoping for rain. The larger numbers appear when it has rained,” remarked Katongole.

Katongole together with his colleagues traps the grasshoppers in barrels which they later sell to grasshopper vendors across Ugandan markets.

Grasshoppers
Grasshopper market in Uganda. [Photo courtesy]
Once darkness sets in, the trappers burn fresh grass and the smoke makes the insects dizzy. They come out in a huff and hit unpainted iron sheets set up by the trappers and fall into barrels set below.

In the market, grasshopper vendors sell them either fresh or some of its parts – sounds weird but yes! – its legs and wings are plucked and sold separately. Freshly cooked grasshoppers are hawked across the streets of Kampala in baskets going for $0.27 for a tablespoonful. The business thrives during the rush hour.

They are salty and crunchy with Uganda’s capital, being the largest market for grasshoppers.

Cooked grasshoppers
Cooked grasshoppers. [Photo courtesy]
Read also:

Dance, Food, Brew: All About Uganda’s Karamoja Cultural Festival

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