One of the country’s leading tobacco buying companies Alliance One Malawi on Tuesday handed over an earth excavated dam worth over K26 million to the tobacco growers of Nambuma in Dowa to help them for irrigation farming.
The Lilongwe based tobacco processing company constructed the dam with financial support from its business associate Phillip Morris International of United Kingdom.
Speaking during the handover ceremony held at the dam’s site, Alliance One Malawi Leaf production director Ronald Ngwira said his company in collaboration with Phillip Morris International decided to construct the dam as one way of helping tobacco growers in the area to do their farming work without any challenges during dry season.
“Some farmers had to walk for 4km away from their homes to access water for nursery establishment. As we strive to progressively reduce incidences of child labour in all areas where we operate, we are confident that the dam will also alleviate distances undertaking by
mothers and children collecting water for their daily needs in turn reducing the need to use children for labour,” he said.
According to Ngwira the newly constructed dam will help tobacco farmers who are on integrated production system with the company to plant their tobacco nurseries in good time, a development that will also help them to produce good quality tobacco.
“As a company Alliance One Malawi thought it wise to construct this dam so that our smallholder tobacco farmers from this area should no longer be travelling long distances to look for water to irrigate their tobacco nurseries during summer and now that is history,” said Ngwira.
He however urged people from the area to take care of the dam, saying apart from irrigation, the water-reservoir will also help the surrounding communities to use the water for other domestic purposes.
Keffa Chafukira a representative of the tobacco farmers from the area commended Alliance One Malawi and Phillip Morris International for constructing the dam saying it has eased the burden they were facing when planting tobacco nurseries during the months of October and November when water becomes so scarce in the area.
Chafukira disclosed that most smallholder tobacco farmers in the area used to walk a distance of about seven kilometers to go to a nearby river where they used to plant their tobacco nurseries during summer as it was the only place that had water during this period.
“Let me commend the two companies for the commendable initiative they have done in our area and this dam has allowed us to stop walking long distances just to plant our tobacco nurseries. We will now be planting our nurseries just near the dam,” explained Chafukira.
Built in the area other Traditional Kayembe, the dam will benefit 63 farmers clubs.
The dam is expected to store 33 000 cubic meters of water and the surrounding communities will also benefit for other domestic use such
as tobacco nurseries, water planting, irrigation for vegetable gardens and as good source of drinking water for livestock in the area.
In his remarks, Philip Morris International Sub-Saharan Africa Corporate Affairs Director, Guillaune Popioc said they are determined
to render technical support to contracted farmers as one way of improving tobacco production.
“We have observed that through contracted farming, there has been an improvement in quality leaf from the country hence our wish to assist them so that at the end of each growing season, farmers should reap from their sweat,” he said
Apart from Nambuma, Alliance One Malawi in collaboration with Phillip Morris International has also constructed other similar dams at Ntiti in the same district as well as at Mpherembe in Mzimba.—(Additional reporting by Isaac Kambwiri)Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :