Putao locals earn extra income from hunting bestselling rock-bugs

There are more and more people looking for rock-bug this year in Kachin State. Since the demand for this locally known ‘Kyaukyapo’ insect is high with a good price, some people are even leaving their jobs to hunt the bug at night, according to local people.
“Last year, the price was around 8,000 kyats to 10,000 kyats for a tin of the bug. This year, the local price is around 6,000 kyats. But people go for bug searching to get extra income for the family. Some search with their family, as for us, almost everyone in the village searches the bug,” said Ko Adiyo from Rigyawdi Village.
A genus of Kyaukyapo insects found only from November to March in Putao has two types as in small and large species this year. For the large one, the price is up to 50,000 kyats per viss whereas, for the small one, the price is up to 90,000 kyats per viss.
“Kyaukyapo hunters are booming along the Mula Creek, as the family earns a living and earns more than a day’s wages in the evening. They don’t need to go and sell because the buyers come and buy the bug at their homes,” said Ma Archi, a Kyaukyapo hunter, herself.
“There are many collectors here because China is buying the insect. If one condensed-milk-tin-size can of the bug is 6,500 kyats, some family can get two or three cans in a short period of time, so that they can earn about 15,000 kyats to 20,000 kyats a night. Some people leave their farming jobs and go for the bug hunting since the daily wage for farming is only 4,000 kyats at present, so the bug hunting is an opportunity for the family to earn a living.” she added.
According to residents, China buys the rock-bug to use in medicine. In Putao, the price was only 200 kyats per tin five years ago, but after 2018, it was more than 5,000 kyats per tin and now it is 6,500 kyats. This year, more and more people are going for the rock-bug hunting in Putao. These bugs are found in creeks, and creeks that are less accessible to people and it can be caught by a mosquito net, sieve and long sticks.—Sann Nyut (Putao)(Translated by Ei Phyu Phyu Aung)

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