Norman Fulatira | June 11, 2012
Yohane Kachipinde is a 34-year-old farmer who moved from southern Malawi to the capital city of Lilongwe. Now he’s running a successful farming operation on the outskirts of the city growing pumpkins as a cash crop.
When he lived in the south, Mr. Kachipinde was about 50 kilometres from the nearest market. He explains, “Where I am coming from, there is land I could cultivate … But I wanted to be closer to a market, considering that … then I had no capacity to transport produce for a long distance.” In 2005, Mr. Kachipinde’s wish came true when he bought a one hectare farm on the edge of Lilongwe.
While farming in Lilongwe, he grew pumpkins because the leaves were an ingredient in relish. But he realized that he could sell the actual pumpkins to get much needed cash.
Mr. Kachipinde noticed that pumpkins grew well even during dry weather. He explains, “We had a dry spell in our area in 2008, and it is this year that I produced and sold more pumpkins by way of irrigation, using water cans. This gave me an edge to start depending on pumpkins as one of the good cash crops.”
Since then, Mr. Kachipinde has been growing pumpkins and selling them as a cash crop. With his wife, he carefully stores the pumpkins in a special grass thatched house until they’re ready for market. He saves dried seed for the next planting season.
Mr. Kachipinde sells his pumpkins in Lilongwe’s Lizulu Market almost all year round. He sells a big pumpkin for about US$1. On average, he sells 15 big pumpkins per day, plus other pumpkins of various sizes.
Since 2008, he has depended heavily on selling pumpkins to support his wife and two children, although he grows other crops such as maize.
Because of his success, Mr. Kachipinde encourages other farmers to grow pumpkins as a cash crop. Recently, he was approached by an extension officer, who introduced him to a hybrid pumpkin variety called “Tangerines.” He plans to test the seeds next winter.