The frugal practicum in Lilongwe changed me.

By Mexford Mulumpwa

The whole practicum to me was full of exciting moments, however, I have only documented the most unforgettable ones to me. I should say that there was no greater benefit to me than learning how to conduct action research; planning it and practically implementing it at Lilongwe Central Market.

I must confess I was a bit stressed to meet the vendors but as we followed the wise guidance from our faculty members, it all flowed well and I could not even believe that I am doing it. As of now after finishing my studies (MSc. Fisheries) from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) at the end of this year, I would like to put into practice what I have learnt in this practicum.

I have a strong desire to conduct another action research at my work place (Senga bay Fisheries Research Center) by using the principles learnt in the practicum. The action research will be carried out on a supply chain of fish from Lake Malawi through Lilongwe Central Market. The different players in this supply chain will be involved to solve their own challenges where possible recommending an intervention to stakeholders that will revolutionize the supply chain.

As much as that is the way the practicum has changed me, the following are some of the many memorable moments I will always cherish in my life:

  1. Dedza market tour

The tour was very special as it gave us a clear picture of what we will be doing during the practicum. It also gave us an opportunity to revisit our strategies to sure that they work for us in the markets where we conducted the practicum itself. Figure 1 shows the team of LUANAR students and faculty members that were on that trip.LUANAR1Figure 1: LUANAR team on Dedza market tour.

2. Welcoming our friends from Michigan State University

This is when I convinced myself that the practicum experience has indeed begun. I like making new friends and it was great to make new friends through this practicum. I was happy to welcome our friend alongside with my fellow LUANAR students and faculty members. Figure 2 shows a group photo after welcoming our friends. I will not do my self-justice if I do not recognize a very special character of Trish; ever happy, always smiling, always asking questions about Malawi and tirelessly telling us more about United States. She was remarkable.

LUANAR 2Figure 2: Group photo of MSU and LUANAR teams on the first day of the practicum.

3. Conducting focus group

I marveled at how the vendors were cooperative. The strategies our faculty members guided us with really worked for us. I enjoyed each one of them. Observe in figure 3 how one of the vendors is trying to make a point using his hand during one of the focus groups. My group members (Jodie Zhu, Devin Foote and Christy Kang’ombe) were just awesome, I think that could be the reason I am missing them already.

LUANAR3Figure 3: One of the focus groups our group conducted.

4. Stopover of our trip to Salima

On our way to Salima, we stopped at a farmer market at Mvera where we were taken to where the produce were being cultivated. It was beautiful to see how cabbages were being grown as shown in figure 4. I enjoyed taking shots which I am planning to use some in the book I am writing. The quality of tomatoes from these farmers was very good. I could not help it but buy some from them.

LUANAR4Figure 4: Cabbages grown by farmers at Mvera in Dowa District.


5. Enjoyed the Lake Malawi at Salima

This was so special to me. I enjoyed relaxing with my friends at the Livingstonia Beach Hotel as we enjoyed the Lake. Figure 5 shows the happy faces just about to depart for LUANAR after swimming in the lake. The memories will probably live with me the rest of my life.

LUANAR5Figure 5: MSU and LUANAR team after enjoying lake.

6. Certificate presentation by deputy mayor of Lilongwe City Council. 

I would rate this as my happiest moment during the practicum. I was overwhelmed by a sense of an achiever as we pose for a group photo with our certificates as shown in figure 6. It was the very best of a feeling.

LUANAR6Figure 6: LUANAR and MSU student posing for a group photo with their certificates with the Deputy Lilongwe City Mayor, Director of Commence at Lilongwe City Council and a representative of the LUANAR’S Vice Chancellor.

7. Farewell party for our MSU students

The party was so nice, I enjoyed so much the braai. I enjoyed also a debate I had with my two good friends (Devin Foote and Kevin Mills) on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). I found it so informative. I will miss you Devin and Kevin.

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