With the abundant land and water resources in the Malawi, irrigation provides a significant technical means to increase agricultural output, Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa has said.
He was speaking at Chikwawa Community Centre Ground on Wednesday, 11 March, 2020 when President Arthur Peter Mutharika officially launched the Shire Valley Transformation Programme (SVTP).
“My ministry has embarked on a nation-wide campaign to develop irrigation schemes along all major water bodies and train small-scale farmers in order to transform agriculture from being subsistence to commercial in line with the National Irrigation Master Plan and Investment Framework (2015-2035). My ministry intends to make Malawi a nation, which imports less and exports more agricultural-related products,” he said.
He said SVTP is expected to contribute to national socio-economic development through increased and sustained crop production, productivity, agro-processing and value chain improvement.
Nankhumwa said the Project will abstract water from Kapichira Falls on Shire River, convey it by gravity through a canal down to Bangula in Nsanje and distribute this water to smallholder and commercial farmers.
“A total of about 43, 370 hectares of land are expected to be under irrigation in Chikwawa and Nsanje. This will benefit over 220,000 smallholder and commercial farmers directly,” he said.
He noted that Malawi’s economy remains agro-based, with agriculture accounting for more than 80 percent of export earnings and 38 percent to the GDP.
“Government’s effort is to strengthen the agriculture sector in order to produce enough food and to increase the sector’s contribution to the economic growth.
“The programme is focusing on increasing agriculture productivity, commercialization and sustainable natural resources management. Sustainable natural resources management will ensure resilience of the agriculture sector to climate-related hazards such as floods and droughts.
“The Programme will spur growth of more agro-processing industries due to availability of raw materials within Special Economic Zones. It is also envisaged that some of the produce from the scheme will be exported using the road-rail network existing in the valley thereby contributing to the country’s forex earnings,” Nankhumwa said.
SVTP is a 14-year programme being implemented with financial support from the Government of Malawi, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), Nigerian Trust Fund and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).
“The total amount for Phase I of the Programme is about US$234 million. This amount of money will enable the Ministry to develop the scheme up to Lengwe National Park. The present construction works will, however, start with the intake and the first six-kilometres of the main canal.
“Your Excellency, may I thank my ministry’s officials for working tirelessly in ensuring that this Programme sees the light of the day, mindful that conceptualization started in the year 1940,” he said.
He urged prospective beneficiaries to take good care of irrigation infrastructure and ensure proper adherence to good agricultural practices.
“Let me also formally ask the Contractor, Conduril SA, to give out your best for the success of this Project,” he said, further thanking the World Bank, the African Development Bank (ADB) and the Global Environmental Facility for supporting the implementation of “this historic and landmark Programme”.
Governing DPP and UDF officials and supporters, cabinet ministers, MPs, representatives of farmer organizations, Secretary for Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Gray Nyandule Phiri, Project Coordinator for Shire Valley Transformation Programme, Sandram Maweru, Malawi Irrigation Board Chair, Professor Zachary Kasomekera and Officer-in-charge for ADB in Malawi, Eyerusalem Fasika, among others, attended the event.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :