Irrigation to curb food shortage- Malawi agriculture minister

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.

A farmer briefing the minister on his maize field in Neno..Photo Jeromy Kadewere.
A farmer briefing the minister on his maize field in Neno..Photo Jeromy Kadewere.
Minister of Agriculture inspecting a maize field in Chileka...Photo Jeromy Kadewere
Minister of Agriculture inspecting a maize field in Chileka…Photo Jeromy Kadewere

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 managemen

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concerned citizen
concerned citizen
8 years ago

You don’t dam a river in a wide valley like lower shire valley . How is the water going to be held on the sides? The best place to dam the shire river is at mpatamanga. This can create a dam or man made lake to provide water for irrigation in the lower shire and also a big source of water to build a huge hydro power station. For irrigating crops, Ngakhale osamanga dam.How is ilovo growing vast fields of sugar cane from the same shire river?. there is no dam at Nchalo or any where near nchalo. Malawi is… Read more »

8 years ago

Resign now. You have failed. Please go.

Foolish Malawians
Foolish Malawians
8 years ago

Dam the Shire in lower shire and irrigate the land you fools. Dam Songwe and Bua too. Malawi full of embiciles, especially those from Bunda.

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