Strawberry farming in Zambia: introducing consumers to local produce

Bupe Chipili Mulapesi came into farming through the guidance of her mother-in-law, who was a farmer and was always encouraging her to grow something. A trained social worker, Mulapesi didn’t heed the advice until the family moved to the outskirts of Lusaka where their property had available land for crop cultivation. She planted carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers.

Then in 2009, after a visit to Australia where she met a fellow farmer who was achieving success with the Alinta strawberry varietal, native to Australia, she ventured into strawberry farming. “Over time, I started understanding the market in Lusaka and the business of farming. I focused on the crops for which there was a demand and managed to get 20 of the Alinta plants.”

Mulapesi could tap into the expertise of her mentor back in Australia and looked for literature from that region on the crop. Her entire current plantation comes from seedlings propagated from the original plants.

Even though there was a clear shortage of strawberries on the supermarket shelves, Farm23 did not immediately achieve the sales it was hoping for. The local Zambian consumer was slightly skeptical of strawberries grown in the country.

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