The Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Food Security Dr Allan Chiyembekeza has said intensive irrigation agriculture remains the only realistic hope to curb food shortage in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) in light of erratic rainfall patterns caused by climate change.
Chiyembekeza was speaking in an interview in Lilongwe on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Southern African Regional Irrigation Association (Saria) workshop, which has brought together participants from all Sadc member states.irrigation-farming
“Looking at the weather patterns, irrigation is definitely the way to go. The only problem is that some of the schemes we developed in Malawi depend on water from the rivers, some of which are now drying up.
“This is because we have not been able to manage catchment areas, so we need to work hard as government if irrigation is to be sustainable, especially in those schemes that are already in operation,” Chiyembekeza said.
He further disclosed that government is planning to introduce solar systems to pump water from underground sources to supplement water from rivers for irrigation.
Due to Malawi’s underutilisation of its irrigation schemes and water resources, the country is said to be losing out on almost 12 percent on its annual productivity it could have attained with proper and efficient use of available sources.
In Malawi, the potential area for irrigation development is estimated at 407 862 hectares but only about 104 000 hectares has been developed so far.
“We are exposed to different experiences from different Sadc members and during meetings such as these, we share ideas and learn what our friends are doing,” he said.
Saria chairperson, Dr Conrade Zawe, commended the Malawi Government for the strides the country has made in developing irrigation agriculture by putting in place the necessary infrastructure and enabling policies.
Zawe said the grouping has set targets in the area of irrigation among them being to increase irrigation agriculture by 30 percent in the next 10 years.
He said: “Climate change is here, all we need is to prepare ourselves to make sure that we can use all the water resources that is available for irrigation.”
Saria was established as a developmental, professional, educational and voluntary regional organisation, dedicated to enhance food security in the Sadc region by improving water and land managemenFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :