At the end of 2007 it was announced to the Project Team by our Project Board member, Wim van den Bos (Senior User, Oikonomos Malawi) that Oiknomos Netherlands did not approve our budget request of € 10.000 to enable the five Project Team members on a study trip to Malawi.
Originally it was envisaged the five of us should have the real look and feel with the paprika smallholder farmers in Malawi.
Due to the constrainsts of work related to closing activities of financial year 2007, the only possible period to go to Malawi was scheduled the second week of January 2008. It became a real challenge for us to organize alternative funding in a very short timeframe. Before year end we got commitments on our revised travel budget from the companies we are working for. The balance should come from our own cash resources. As a group we have decided to delagate only two (of five) team members to visit Malawi. On 11 January 2008 Rob and Gerard left for Malawi.
The next day we arrived at Lilongwe, the capitol of Malawi. We were welcomed by Charles Chikopa, extension worker for Cheetah (Malawi) Limited, established in 1995. Cheetah has introduced and boosted the small scale paprika production in Malawi. Shortly after the arrival we went with him to Dedza district to visit our first paprika smallholder farmer.
We learned from Cheetah that Paprika is a horticultural crop that is particularly grown for oil extraction and powder production. Paprika is known for its sweetness, flavour and red colour used as a ground powder on its own or in spice blends, the second major use for dried paprika is for the oleoresin extraction. Paprika oil is used as a natural colouring agent for the food industry. Paprika being a horticultural crop needs high attention during production. There are many ways a farmer can grow paprika: small scale, emergent farmer, commercial farmer or corporate farmer. The general rule is "the more you put in the more you get out".
Following weeks we will exchange more details and pictures about our visit to Malawi.
Gerard Adriaanse, Rob Jonkman, Henk Keizer, Gerard van Kilsdonk en Robert Mares.