November is the month to harvest, sell and celebrate nsenene, a type of bush cricket and Uganda’s favourite edible insect. This type of cricket – Ruspolia differens – has been consumed in Uganda for centuries.
The humid air of Uganda’s second rainy season causes swarms of nsenene to migrate across the region in search of food and mating partners. Hundreds of trappers take to the streets and fields, and there is a buzz of activity surrounding the capture, sale, preparation and consumption of this seasonal delicacy.
‘When November rains came, we knew the nsenene were also going to come. We used to rush into Arua to catch them because it was the only place with reliable electricity,’ recalls Flora, a 28-year-old harvester who spent a lot of time catching the insects by hand when she was a child.
Electricity has now arrived in Flora’s town and each November electric bulbs are attached to large iron panels. The light attracts the crickets, they hit the iron panels and then they fall into polythene sheets.
‘My best harvest was in November 2018 when I sold nsenene for 6 million shillings (USD 1,644),’ says Flora.
Women congregate near the fruit and vegetable markets and lay out green, brown and yellow nsenene on woven trays. They sell the insects in any quantity – even by the spoonful – so everyone can afford to have a taste of this delicious, nutritious snack. Children and women carry hoppers full of the insects on their heads, selling them to eager passers-by.
Most village savings groups register increased savings in November due to the processing and sale of the insect.
‘In nsenene, there is no loss!’ says Asiku, a local electrician often hired to wire up the bulbs at harvest time.