A worm of exploitation

Kabelo Dipholo
NUTRITIOUS: Mophane worm

Bobirwa Sub District is working on an ambitious initiative that will see mophane worm (phane) harvesters in the region selling their produce from a consumer cooperative, with the intention to control pricing.

Complaints about exploitation by some buyers cropped out in at kgotla meetings addressed by area Member of Parliament Taolo Lucas.

The MP has so far addressed meetings in Mathathane, Moletemane, Tsetsebjwe, Gobojango, Semolale, Mabole and Lepokole.

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In an interview with The Voice, Lucas said there’s a concern that demand for the highly nutritious worm has gone down since only locals are allowed to sell to the lucrative South African market.

A worm of exploitation
AREA MP: Taolo Lucas

“This has created a problem as there are people who are taking advantage of the situation and buying it on the cheap, especially when they find a harvester with social challenges,” Lucas said.

“If parents are pressed to buy school uniform and provide food for their families, they end up selling the worm at give away prices,” he said.

Lucas said the District Commissioner’s Office has put together a Task Force to drive the initiative.

“They are looking at having a consumer coop which will eventually evolve into a strictly Phane Harvesters Cooperative,” said Lucas.

The MP further the Selibe Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) is also an interested party in the initiative and forms part of the Task Force.

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“The intention is to protect the harvesters from exploitation from unscrupulous buyers, and to see phane harvesters having their own cooperative,” he said.

Phane harvesters are required to pay P110 for a dealer’s permit or P2 500 for an expert permit. However, those gathering purely for personal consumption are not allowed to exceed 40kg.

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