Paprika buyers in the country have complained of low production of the chili pepper, saying farmers are failing to meet their demand.
Exagris Africa Limited outgrower manager Jonas Moyo said in an interview at a field day in Rumphi on Friday that out of the 500 metric tonnes of paprika they wanted to buy from farmers last year, they sourced 400 metric tonnes.
Said Moyo: “This year we have sourced more markets in Spain and South Africa. As such, we plan to buy 1 000 metric tonnes. But we doubt if we will meet this target because few farmers grow paprika.”
He said demand for Malawi paprika is increasing on the international market due to the product’s good quality.
In an attempt to help farmers produce more paprika, Mzuzu-based Nyika Food Trust has supported 202 farmers in Rumphi with farm inputs worth K9 million.
The trust is implementing a paprika project in the area of Senior Chief Mwankhunikira in the district to the tune of 24 000 pounds (about K15.9 million)
Nyika Food Trust project manager Sigman Chirambo said they expect the farmers to produce 40 metric tonnes of paprika from 30 hectares.
He said the project wants to promote commercial farming of paprika for farmers to have easy access to income for an improved livelihood.
“We are also providing trainings in business management skills so that farmers should be able to save some money after selling their produce,” said Chirambo.
Nyika Food Trust was formed in 2011 by a Scotland-based firm, Malawi Fruits, which mobilises resources to support the farmers’ activities.
Malawi Fruits director Alan Laverock said the project targets to reach out to 20 000 farmers in the next 10 years.
Laverock said an assessment they did with the Mzuzu Agricultural Development Division in 2012 indicates that paprika requires less work and low cost of production as compared to tobacco.
Paprika is used as an ingredient in a broad variety of dishes worldwide. It is principally used to add colour and flavour to many types of dishes.