The coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic in recent times has created a major stir around the world not only affecting the health of people but also creating recession and aggravating food shortages. This has led to the eating of mice as a vital source of protein in an African nation. Malawi, where mouse is a popular snack, has resorted to the rodent meat for the supply of protein amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Vendors can be seen waving long skewers of roasted field mice along the man highway of Malawi for targeting motorists between the two large cities named Blantyre and Lilongwe. The crispy mice meat is sold at street stalls and markets across the country. Malnutrition and food insecurity are very important issues in the African nation where half of the population is below the poverty line.
The deadly virus outbreak has infected almost 5,500 people and claimed the lives of 170 while increasing shortages of food as many livelihoods got curtailed by the confinement measures. Bernard Simeon, who is a mice hunter from Ntcheu district of Malawi stated that they were already struggling before the pandemic and the outbreak has made it even more difficult for the common people, as reported by AFP.
Health Ministry Official Asks People to Rely on Mice for Protein
The 38-year-old is primarily a peasant farmer who also hunts mice to aid his livelihood. His wife Yankho Chalera said," When times are hard we rely on mice to supplement our diet because we cannot afford to buy meat."
The central government has promised a $50 monthly stipend for the people who lost their income because of the restrictions imposed to control the spread of the coronavirus. The scheme was supposed to start in June but the government stated that the roll-out logistics are still getting finalised.
The health officials, for the time being, have urged the poor communities to rely on naturally available resources for aiding their food necessities. As per Sylvester Kathumba, who is the nutritionist in the health ministry, mice is one of the sources of proteins.
Environmentalists have raised concerns due to the damage caused by the hunting techniques as the demand increases. As the rodents are mostly found in cornfields the hunters burn bushes to identify mice holes after crops get harvested thus affecting the ecosystem within the bush.
As the virus outbreak continues to spread around the world, it will be interesting to see what happens to the people of the African country and when the government finally helps them by giving the $50 stipend.