By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawian passionate private tree seedlings developer, Mapopa William Banda, who has also diversified by raising fruits tree seedlings, says he is growing red hot pepper in his garden and hopes to produce some seedlings shortly for sale.
Named as Ghost Pepper or Bhut Jolokia (Bhutanese chili), is a hybrid chili cultivated in Northeast India and a delicacy in that country.
In a Facebook post announcing his plan to invest it in the country, Mapopa was very humorous about it:
“If you chew your pepper with your food, then you haven’t met this guy, yet,” he said. “Going third on world stage on Scovile Scale, this dude is a real scorcher.
“Your taste buds will go full throttle while your nostrils and ears will feel like a piped jet of steam — your eyes will feel like popping out?????.
“Imagine, our local peppers going between 3,500 to 10,000 on Scovile Scale, this guy tops 1,200,000 on this scale. But he has two sisters ahead of him but that’s a story for another day.
“I give him the name ‘Thawa M’bale’. He is growing in my garden and I hope to produce some seedlings shortly for those that DARE???.”
Mapopa further markets the products he has both indigenous and exotic tree seedlings for sale for those planning on reforestation as the rains have began falling.
He says he has in stock seedlings such as m’bawa, nsangu, mthethe, katope, mtangatanga, msambamfumumngongomwa, muwanga, mtsidzi, bwemba, mkundi as well as exotic trees — pine, bluegum, khesha, jambula and more with prices ranging K150 to M300 each.
Fruit trees saplings he has include citruses meyer, kumquats, tangerines, key limes, pomelos, neville oranges.
He also have some for guavas, soursop, mpoza, masuku, papayas, granadillas, grapes, litchis, figs, loquats, bwemba (sweet and sour), date plums, avocados, mulberry.
Also available are tomato fruit (tomarilo), mangoes (kent, tommy, haden, zill), plantain banana suckers, Jack fruits amongst others — prices ranging from K750 to K10,000.
He can be contacted on 0991686201 (whatsapp) and voice calls, 0997473355/0888578964. He delivers within Blantyre for orders of 20 plus.
He says fruits tree seedlings have already received great support mainly from the elite customers who are appreciating the value of input that is incurred in raising the plants.
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.”
Recently Mapopa said reafforestation efforts in Malawi are being thwarted due to poor care after planting trees because concentration is usually on planting seedlings that have only been nurtured in the nursery for just 3 to 6 months.
He said Malawi will only succeed in the afforestation battle if people concentrate on planting tree saplings — those that are over a year old because they are quite developed as compared to seedlings.
“There should be deliberate forestry policies that ensure protection of trees planted, say monetary inducements to those keeping forests intact for a good part of some years.
“Malawians only tout tree planting exercises but once done they never go back to check on their efforts.
“We can bellow out that we have planted 5 million trees but after just one year, only 900,000 would have survived — that’s where we go all wrong in our noble efforts in reafforestation,” he said.