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By Eric Barigye

Welcome back to our weekly blog which will be focusing on a particular aspect of Ugandan life and using it to teach more about the people and place that plays host to our Adventure Like No Other. 

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Each week, Eric will be helping us to explore all things Uganda!

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It is always an exciting time for many in Masaka when it’s Grasshopper Season! These flying insects are an extremely popular snack in these parts and we are lucky enough to be taught about the business by Masaka native, Kasule Muhmad, who explains a day in the life of Grasshopper Hawker.

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Muhmad has been in the grasshopper business since he was 10 years old after dropping out of school early aged 7. He started as a plucker (where grasshopper legs and wings are removed before they are fried), then became a catcher (grasshoppers are found in places of high vegetation cover) and now he is a hawker, selling the product. 

Muhmad wakes at 7AM and does his morning preparations before heading to work where he arrives at 8AM. Once there he has some breakfast whilst waiting for the grasshoppers to be prepared. They are bought early in the morning after catchers have gathered them and then taken to the headquarters of Muhmad’s employers to be plucked and fried. At 12PM they are ready – he and the other hawkers are given buckets (left), which are filled with anywhere between 14 and 20 500ml cups of grasshoppers (pictures above – the orange cup). Muhmad then free walks around Masaka’s business centre where he is stopped by those interested and sells. 

With 50 cups of fresh-caught grasshoppers going for $27, the rate of just under $2 a cup is his employer’s asking. Muhmad is free to add his earnings onto that as he sells during the day. Most people buy small quantities to snack on worth about 27 cents. 

Muhmad is done at 5PM but can go to 7PM depending on people’s demand. He then returns to headquarters to give his employers their split of the money as well as the materials they gave him for the day.

He makes his journey home and spends most evenings watching movies. At the time of writing, he is 2 films into the Harry Potter movies and loving it! 

“The number of grasshoppers has reduced a lot since I started and I don’t know why but I like this work because I earn the most money doing it. A good month can earn me 800,000 shillings.” Muhman tells us. (That’s $216!) 

Government sources are stating the decline of grasshoppers is primarily down to climate change, which ‘are affecting the hatching process and the rate of multiplication’ of grasshoppers.

Given the seasonal nature of the grasshopper business, Muhmad also pursues brick making in Kampala. He is in Masaka twice a year for the grasshopper seasons,  from April to June and then from November to January. 

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