As soon as Ab Udofia, Uyo businessman, posted on his Facebook page photographs of a plate filled with fried winged termites – an edible insect – his friends came after him, they jokingly called him out for not inviting them to the dining table.
“I never knew it could be garnished like this-oo,” one Facebook user commented on the photo.
“My brother, kindly reserve some for me,” said another Facebook user.
Another person commended Mr Udofia for “going back to the root”, for the reminder of what used to be a traditional practice among the people of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria’s South-south region.
Every family in this part of the country, in the past, was always looking forward with some excitement to a time, during the rainy season, where ndube (the winged termite) would come out at night and fly around light rays.
To catch ndube, you would have to put water in a container, as many containers as you can afford, place them around where the insects are flying, and watch them fall in their numbers into the containers.
Many of the insects could easily be picked from the floor as they crawled about after losing their wings.
Mr Udofia also posted photographs showing people harvesting the insect.
He told PREMIUM TIMES that people from the neighbourhood came to his compound around 2a.m. And they were picking the insects till about 3a.m.
“It is even them (the neighbours) that gave us some (of the insects) in the morning,” Mr Udofia said.
He said he had to share his portion to other people, including friends who had reached out to him through Facebook.
“They say they sell N500 per cup…. My sister, Uyai, sold it for over N25,000! That was last year. I did not believe her, not until this year that I have seen the demand for it.
“In fact, you won’t believe the number of people that contacted me privately on Facebook, requesting for this thing. I’m talking about big people,” he said.
One of the persons who got a portion from Mr Udofia was Ubongabasi Tom who later posted a video of herself on Facebook where she was frying and eating the insects.
“I am chilling with a plate of ndube, na only palmy (palm wine) remain,” she said in one of the clips.
“It’s been long I had this. God bless u sir,” she said to Mr Udofia in her Facebook post.
‘Over 1,900 edible insects’
There are more than 1,900 edible insect species, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said in a 2013 report.
The report, titled, Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security, said winged termites are often fried in their own fat and that fried termites contain 32 to 38 per cent protein.
“Sometimes termites are crushed with a pestle and mortar and eaten with honey,” the report said.
Elsewhere, in Maiduguri, northern Nigeria, traders make profits selling edible grasshoppers in the markets.
One woman, a mother of seven, has been in the business of selling crunchy grasshoppers for over 10 years, a business that has helped her to train her children through the university, according to a report by Channels television.