Prices skyrocket as grasshoppers land

A vendor sells grasshoppers at Katwe market in Kampala on November 22, 2023. PHOTO/FRANK BAGUMA

What you need to know:

  • Traders attribute the hike in prices to the fact that the insects are being transported from as far as Kasese District.

Prices of the long-awaited grasshoppers (Nsenene) around the capital city, Kampala and the neighbouring suburbs have gone up, with a sack of fresh grasshoppers costing between Shs350,000 and Shs500,000, depending on the location.

Grasshoppers are a delicacy in most parts of the country and are a source of income.
Previously, a cup of fresh grasshoppers cost as low as Shs1,500, while a full sack, which weighs between 25kgs and 30kgs, would go for between Shs30,000 and Shs50,000 at the peak of the season.

The high prices follow the prolonged scarcity of the insects, known to be in abundance during the rainy month of November.

Earlier, scientists attributed the scarcity of grasshoppers to a prolonged and enhanced wet season, which is not favourable for the breeding of grasshoppers.

Vendors prepare grasshoppers for sale at Busega Roundabout in Kampala on November 22, 2023. PHOTO/FRANK BAGUMA

However, a tour of some of the markets in Kampala yesterday revealed that the grasshoppers had increased and the dealers in the business were found very busy conducting business, unlike in the earlier days of the month.

Ms Grace Namyalo, who sells grasshopper in Nakasero market, observed that they had a field day yesterday since grasshoppers were in plenty, which pushed the price a bit high, compared to the previous seasons.

“I bought two sacks [of grasshoppers] at Shs450,000 each. To avoid making losses, I had to set a high price and at the moment, a cup of uncooked grasshoppers costs between Shs10,000 and Shs12,000,” she said.

“A cup of fried grasshoppers ranges between Shs18,000 and Shs20,000. But we hope that the prices will drop if the flow of grasshoppers continues in today’s [yesterday] supply,” she added.

Many of the traders at Nakasero market who spoke to this publication shared similar prices while others had a fluctuation margin of not more than Shs2,000.

At St Balikuddembe Market (Owino), the prices of the grasshoppers were slightly lower than those in Nakasero market but varied from stall to stall. Mr Habib Kawere, who was found selling grasshoppers in Owino, said he was selling a cup of fresh grasshoppers for between Shs8,000 and Shs10,000.

“But the price of fried grasshoppers is still high because the minimum price for a cup is Shs14,000, while a cup of those fried with onions and other spices is sold at a minimum of Shs18,000,” Mr Kawere said.

Mr Micheal Ssempijja, another trader said he was selling a cup of fresh grasshoppers at Shs6,000, while a similar quantity of fried grasshoppers costs Shs10,000. He added that he trapped the grasshoppers in Mityana District.Two spoonfuls of fried grasshoppers costs Shs1,000.

However, at Katwe market, which is a known hub for grasshoppers during the season, prices were extremely low compared to other markets.

A sack of grasshoppers was being sold for between Shs70,000 and Shs100,000 and some traders said they were making losses due to overwhelming volumes of grasshoppers compared to the customers.

Mr Kamadi Katende, the chairperson of the Grasshopper Traders’ Association in Katwe, said: “We have waited for long, but if grasshoppers continue to be plentiful like today’s [yesterday] bunch then we are likely to incur more losses because whenever the supplies are high, the prices automatically drop.”

“Secondly, unlike the other years, this year the grasshoppers are coming from far districts particularly the Rwenzori region in districts like Kasese, Bundibugyo and Bwera, among others. So we have to factor in more transport costs,” he added.

Another grasshopper trader in Katwe market, Ssalongo Bukenya, said: “Buyers are hesitant to come due to fear that prices are still very high because of the earlier scarcity.”

“But I want to allay their fears that grasshoppers are finally here and in plenty, so they should come and do business as usual,” he added.

Unlike the previous seasons, traders noted that grasshoppers from the greater Masaka are still very low compared to those from the Rwenzori Sub-region. 

Some traders have attributed the decrease in Masaka’s grasshoppers to the continued encroachment on forests which are believed to be the breeding grounds for the insects.