Paprika on a large scale in Zimbabwe
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CTA. 2005. Paprika on a large scale in Zimbabwe. Rural Radio Resource Pack 05/2. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57272
Mike Randall explains how growing paprika on a large scale does require considerable investment, particularly in chemicals and labour, but offers financial rewards in foreign currency.
Paprika on a large scale in Zimbabwe Cue: Throughout history, spice crops have always been among the most expensive agricultural commodities. So are spices a good choice as a high value cash crop for farmers in sub-Saharan Africa? Choosing the right spice to grow is, not surprisingly, an important part of the answer. Paprika is a spice crop that over the last 15 years has been successfully grown in Zimbabwe. Paprika pods are thin, red and shiny like hot chilli peppers, but many varieties don?t have the strong taste of chillis. The pods are dried and processed to produce a bright red powder which is often added to other foods to improve their appearance. Demand for natural food colourants is growing, especially in wealthier countries, so paprika could be a good cash crop for farmers to grow. However, as Sylvia Jiyane found out, when she spoke to Mike Randall, a Zimbabwean paprika grower, growing the crop does require quite a lot of investment and expertise. Paprika is a heavy user of fertiliser, and also needs to be treated with pesticides, which when growing large areas will require specialist equipment. In fact, it is estimated that a hectare of paprika will cost a farmer around 1,500 US dollars to grow, which does not include cost of the spraying machinery. The crop also requires about 200 labour days per hectare, so labour must be available throughout the season. But for larger, commercial farmers like Mike Randall, it is a rewarding crop, and one that can earn an income in foreign currency. IN: ?One of the good things about paprika? OUT: ? northwest of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.? DUR?N 3?30? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: And that report was sent by Sylvia Jiyane. Transcript Randall One of the good things about paprika for our area, is that it is quite hardy, and likes our hot conditions. However, at the same time we do have to put quite a lot of water onto it. But you can do it through drip irrigation, and at the same time put fertiliser through, which helps a lot in controlling the disease. Jiyane What would you say are some of the major costs in paprika production? Randall I think the major cost is probably the spraying. In order to get good yields from the crop, one of the main things is to plant it as early as you can, at the start of summer. But at the same time, planting early means that you have got to put a lot of chemicals, mainly insecticides, onto the crop, to keep it going throughout the length of summer. So you do have to spend a lot of money on the spraying, and we have had to buy machinery purely for the spraying of paprika. But at the same time, we expect to get good yields, which does justify the expense. Jiyane When I was driving through your farm, I realised your paprika crop is quite densely populated. How do you harvest the crop? Randall It is all harvested by hand. It is basically contract harvested. We pay per kg of harvested pods. They have got to be of a certain dryness, and it?s harvested on a daily basis. Jiyane What are some of the advantages of growing paprika over other crops, such as maize, beans and other legumes? Randall I think the main advantage is that it is paid on a US dollar based price, so you don?t lose out on the inflation. It?s quite an easy crop to grow, and also to reap, in that you reap it when it is fairly dry, but you are not, like tobacco, you are not pressed to reap it at exactly the right time. You can afford to even let some of it fall onto the ground, so long as you collect it fairly soon, and store it somewhere safe. You can store it for a month or two without losing any value on the crop. So it just gives you a few more options in as far as the right time to sell it. Because sometimes the price that the buyers will pay goes up towards the end of the season, and if you can hang on to your paprika, and then start selling it at the end of the season, you are obviously going to do better out of it. Jiyane And if you were to advise a farmer who is listening right now, what would you say are the necessary conditions for one to do paprika production? Randall Firstly, the most important thing is to make sure you?ve got a market for it. Now that should not be a problem, because there are a lot of people, a lot of buyers, looking for paprika. Secondly you need some form of water. You can try to rely on the rainfall, but because it is quite an expensive crop to establish and grow well, if you don?t get any rain you are going to lose a lot more money than if you were growing something like sorghum or maize. In so far as the soil types are concerned, it does best in a sandy soil. Sandy loam is probably the most ideal for it, because it doesn?t like getting water-logged; it dies very quickly if it is sitting in pools of water. Now lastly, the labour. We have always hand picked. A lot of the fertiliser and chemicals you can put on by hand. It is a very labour-intensive crop, so it?s a crop that is probably worth avoiding if you don?t have access to a reasonable supply of labour over the growing season. Jiyane So there we are listeners, I was talking to Mike Randall, a paprika farmer in Unguza area, northwest of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. End of track.