Roasted rats turn saviour in Malawi as Coronavirus triggers massive food shortage

The coronavirus restrictions has triggered food shortages in Malawi as many livelihoods have been curtailed by confinement measures.

Malnutrition and food insecurity are perennial issues in the small, landlocked nation, where more than half of the population live below the poverty line.

To this end, roasted mice have become a vital source of protein in Malawi ever since the coronavirus outbreak aggravated food shortages and economic hardship.

The rodents are typically found in corn fields, where they grow plump on grains, fruit, grass and the odd insect.

Seasoned and cooked to a crisp, these roasted field mice are sold at street stalls and markets across the African country.

Vendors target motorists travelling between the two largest cities, Blantyre and Lilongwe, by waving long skewers of mice typically stand along Malawi’s main highway.

Many peasant farmers have taken to hunting and hawking mice to supplement his livelihood.

Also, Malawi’s government has promised a $50 monthly stipend for people who lost income due to anti-coronavirus regulations that restricted movement and business.

The scheme was meant to start in June, but last week the government said roll-out logistics were still being finalised.

Health officials have meantime urged the poorest communities in some rural villages to supplement their diets with free and naturally available resources.

The Balaka district, tucked into Malawi’s Southern Region, is widely associated with mouse hunting. Environmentalists, however, have voiced concern about damage caused by hunting methods as demand increases.

After crops are harvested, hunters burn bushes to identify mice holes so they can trap them.

Children in this area were fed mice as a treat even before they tasted beef.