Greenbelt Authority (GBA) has invested MK50 million in tree-planting exercise on the banks of Lingazi River in Salima, especially along the course passing through part of GBA’s sugarcane plantation in Traditional Authority (TA) Mwanza.
There are about 6, 000 hectares of land in Salima, where GBA – a state owned agency championing large-scale commercial irrigation in Malawi – is involved in sugarcane growing and sugar production in partnership with Salima Sugar Company Limited (SCCL), through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
Speaking at the start of the tree planting on Thursday, after which 7, 000 tree seedlings were to be planted, GBA Acting Chief Executive Officer, Amon Mluwira, said the agency will plant 100, 000 trees in the next few years in what he described as Lingazi River training.
River training, according to Mluwira, are several human initiatives that ensure that a river maintains its course always.
He said the planting of trees on the banks, which will cost over MK50 million, is more ideal because trees reduce the amount of storm water wash offs, prevent erosion and flooding.
Mluwira disclosed that, over the years, huge chunks of the GBA sugarcane plantation, holding even mature sugarcane, have been washed away by Lingazi River, resulting in huge losses of up to MK50 million per annum.
“Our plantation is not the same as it were two years ago. We have lost ten metres of land on either side of the river. We are afraid the worst would likely happen in the next two or three years,” said Mluwira.
The GBA acting CEO expressed hope that the tree planting will “help a lot in mitigating all these risks”.
TA Mwanza commended GBA for the tree planting initiative, saying the trees will also protect the sugarcane and other crops belonging to smallholder farmers.