Start main page content

Yum yum! Tasty termites

- Wits University

Rich in proteins, fats, vitamins and nutrients - PhD-student unearths the benefits of edible termites in new study.

A study by Wits PhD-student, Shandukani Netshifhefhe, published in the South African Journal of Science this week, showed that edible termites contribute significantly to the livelihoods of many rural families in Vhembe District Municipality of Limpopo.

Together with co-authors, Ednah C. Kunjeku from the Department of Plant Production at the University of Venda and Professor Frances Duncan, Netshifhefhe’s supervisor and Head of the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences at Wits, the team conducted a survey with 104 individuals from 48 villages to look at the socio-economic factors of the harvesters, marketers and consumers of edible termites.

Their significant findings include:

  • Termites are sources of food with high economic and social importance, and are easily accessible by the poor.
  • Studies have been conducted on edible termites in many African countries, yet comparatively little is known about edible termites in South Africa.
  • Preservation of indigenous knowledge used during harvesting and processing needs to be prioritised.

The team concludes that this indigenous knowledge should be passed on to younger generations and that research on the sustainability of termite harvesting is recommended.

They also recommend that the indigenous knowledge of diets and sustainable harvesting of insects should be taught at schools at an early age.

Read more about their study online in the Saturday Star, titled Yebo for Limpopo's Goggas: “Some eat them raw, straight off the mound. Or they boil, grill, roast or dry them out in the sun. But the most popular way to eat termites in Limpopo is to fry them, mix them with tomatoes and onions and devour them with maize meal.” Continue reading

Reference: Human uses and indigenous knowledge of edible termites in Vhembe District, Limpopo Province, South Africa