By Duncan Mlanjira
Following end of tree planting season to arrest the rampant deforestation, Malawian passionate private seedlings developer, Mapopa William Banda, has now diversified by raising fruits tree seedlings.
He has in stock indigenous fruits tree seedlings such as Mbilima, Mpinjipinji, Matowo, Mateme, Masau, Chitimbe and Mkundi.
The exotic fruits are Mangoes, Lemons, Oranges, Limes, Guavas, Avocado pears and Pomegranates.
Mapopa says he already has great support mainly from the elite customers who are appreciating the value of input that is incurred in raising the plants.
“I currently have one nursery at Naperi, Blantyre near Premier Specialist Clinic,” he said. “Prices for one seedling range from K500 to as high as K15,000 depending on the species.”
Born in Zomba to a Malawian couple of Tonga origin, Mapopa never did any forestry courses but just had passion for it from childhood.
He started his primary school in 1975 and went to Nkhata Bay and Livingstonia Secondary Schools.
Thereafter, he did marketing (Chartered Institute of Marketing) at the Polytechnic Management Centre and has a Diploma in Marketing (CIM).
He has worked in several companies in sales & marketing departments and then deviated to structural installations with Alliance Media with which he has worked in Malawi, Tanzania and Botswana.
“I have had passion for flora since childhood. I get so fascinated to see something grow from what seemingly look to be a dormant origin (seed) to a gigantic being (tree) and able to sustain fauna livelihood.
“I also have an inborn liking of nature and started growing tree seedlings in pots (planting tubes) in 2009 while working at Hisco Limited.
“We had a huge M’bawa tree in the vicinity of our neighborhood and they used to drop seeds and during the rainy season the seeds would sprout.
“It’s from the seedlings gotten from there that I started uprooting and replanting in plastic tubes.”
From 2009, Mapopa has increased his production from a home nursery to two nurseries that have a myriad of plant types from indigenous to exotic forestry tree seedlings/saplings to fruits, bananas, nut trees, culinary herbs and expanding into vegetable seedlings.
“I have two nurseries, one at Ngumbe near the MBC transmitter where I employed one person to mostly keep guard, water and sell the plants. It’s a rented place and it’s almost 50×25 metres.
He says this is his full-time engagement and he enjoys what he does and also keeps his livelihood afloat.
“I am a father of 3, aged between 22 and 16 and through this business I am able to send two to colleges and one is in high school.”
How does he get to be known by clients: “With my 23 years’ work experience, I have known loads of people and my marketing targets these people I was interacting with during my working days.
“I started this venture with not much experience but passion, determination, drive and willingness to learn has kept me going.
“The beauty of this occupation is that I earn a living out of what I love doing. This gives me the drive to go on and also complimenting my faith that patience is a virtue.
“Most people have found themselves in problems because of lack of patience. Growing plants from seed needs your utmost patience — to wait for seed to germinate, nurture the plant until it is ready to be planted in the field.”
He says he sources some plant seeds locally while others he import through eBay.
“My passion is to increase awareness of the goodness of planting local varieties but catering for a wide horizon of clients. I bring in exotic varieties to fullfil their wishes.”
Mapopa is always passionate to deliver good services and in turn he has also been charitable by setting aside some tree seedlings each year to donate to schools and institutions that pursue reafforestation efforts.
“Last growing season, I donated around 3,500 seedlings, which translate into K350,000 in money terms from my small nursery.”
What’s his future plans: “To acquire a retirement plot where I will build my retirement home, continue with this business, add some orchard, green houses and plant vegetables on commercial basis.”