On the 22nd January 2013 we had a special visitor, the Chief Executive of Progressio Mark Lister. He came to observe the work of Arise and Shine International (ASI), the organisation we are volunteering with, in Kabudula, Malawi. During his speech he mentioned that this was the first community in Malawi he had the privilege of visiting; which made the members of the community feel very special indeed.

This visit did much to strength community relations and supports the partnership between the Progressio and ASI. There was much anticipation and excitement surrounding this visit. He met key community members in Kabudula such as the traditional authority (the chief), the group village headmen, paprika farmers and youth group members.

(Team photo of Progressio Staff Zimbabwe, Progressio Staff Malawi, Arise and Shine International founder and staff, both local and international volunteers)

During his opening speech Mark Lister emphasised that ‘together’ we can protect the planet. This highlighted the partnership needed in order to achieve this goal. He said we could “protect the planet in a way that gives everyone an opportunity to have a good livelihood”. He emphasised that this could be achieved in a way that every individual is respected with their dignity and values intact.  Also, that it was important that individuals have the opportunity to have a say and have the power to shape their own lives, the future of themselves, their families and their future families.” This did much to strengthen the work of the partner organisation Arise and Shine International in Kabudula.

He had the opportunity to visit a paprika demonstration plot that Arise and Shine International are currently conducting, which has been planted by the local youth of Kabudula . The main aim of the plot is to shift emphasis away from tobacco farming and on to a more sustainable crop such as paprika. The plot has been divided into sixteen plots and four different conditions have been applied. The first condition is control, the second manure, the third Super D compound and C.A.N fertilisers, the fourth fertiliser and manure. At the end of the experiment a gross margin analysis will be done to show which brings the biggest profit and which is the most sustainable (least damaging to the soil).

Arise and Shine International aim to link farmers to profitable markets and carry out conservation agriculture to protect the livelihoods of future generations. This need for sustainability was also highlighted in Mark’s opening speech giving more weight to the argument that partnership between local NGO’s and international organisations is essential.