The Mopane Worm for Improved Income Generation (MW4IIG) is one of the Southern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab (SA RILab) innovation projects implemented in Beitbridge, Zimbabwe by Ruzivo Trust. The project falls under the Resilience Innovation Challenge for Food Security and Improved Income Generation (RIC4FIG) pathway 2 (Diversify local economy for resilience).
The problem addressed
Mopane worm (fifth-instar larva of the Imbrasia Belina) harvesters remain on the margins of the value chain particularly at marketing stage where too many intermediaries tend to purchase at low, uncompetitive prices. In addition, there is declining production due to overharvesting of the fifth-instar larva of the Imbrasia Belina; a common livelihood natural resource for people in Beitbridge. This has led to competition for Mopane worm access, destructive harvesting processes (breaking tree branches, human burrowing of the soil for pupa limiting re-breeding potential) and consequently habitat damage. Furthermore, the cutting down of Mopane trees for a variety of uses (firewood, carpentry, building houses, homestead and garden fencing) is exacerbated by climate change impact that affects rainfall patterns that reduces the natural ability of Mopane trees to regenerate leaf fodder important as a feedstock for the larva.
The project seeks to facilitate training and capacity strengthening to increase Mopane worm productivity. Group formation and dynamics will be achieved through facilitation by the experts in the team developing a training curriculum at multiple levels that includes: developing manuals for group formation, technical production processes on Mopane worms, conservation of the natural habitat, health and safety of harvesters and collaboration with institutional actors. Prototype development will be anchored by market research on the commercial aspect of Mopane worm. The market research activities entail understanding the marketing matrix i.e. Demand, Supply, Intermediaries, Retailers, market segmentation and other actors.
The project group and collective approach will contribute towards building human capital and by extension resilient communities who work collectively to deal with their challenges. The project will also result in groups of people being community champions on natural resources management inspiring the groups to engage in the project and elements of it. The MW4IIG will inculcate a sense of developing local entrepreneurs who equally penetrate outside markets on behalf of their own communities. This means there is better and improved flows of income to the local community, which then will translate into better conservation and resilience of the communities.