Philanthropist Napoleon Dzombe says he plans to roll out various irrigation projects in the country as one way of ending the problem of hunger and food insecurity.
Dzombe, who is the Group Chairman of Mtalimanja Holdings Limited (MHL, was speaking in an interview with Nyasa Times when asked for his views on how lives of Malawians in rural areas who depend on tobacco can be transformed now that the crop is facing an uncertain future.
MHL, which is originally based in Nkhotakota, has rice milling and sugar manufacturing plants.
A couple of months ago the government of the United States of America banned all tobacco imports from Malawi saying minors are also involved in the cultivation of Malawi’s Green Gold which according to them is illegal.
The call has also come at a time when anti tobacco lobbyists have also upped the tempo to discourage
Said Dzombe: “It is sad that tobacco is facing a myriad of challenges and this will mean that many Malawians in rural areas will no longer have money in their pockets. To counter this problem there is need to come up with deliberate policies which will help the rural farmers make ends meet. Irrigation is one of them and diversification is another.”
According to Dzombe he has deliberately introduced paddy and banana farming at his SAFI farm in Madisi, Dowa to show the farmers that the crops can be grown in all parts of the country.
“I have sank a huge dam at Nzeru za Abambo farm which can hold 1 million litres of water and through gravity farmers will be able to irrigate their fields all year round. Apart from that I will also introduce fish farming, poultry farming, dairy farming and horticulture for sale in our major towns and the proceeds will go back to farmers,” added Dzombe.
An agriculture expert said such initiative are good and need to be fully supported.
The expert, however, said that more time will be needed to gauge the impact of this vision and how practical this is going to be in the long term.
“There is need to draw up a road map to see how the ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Water Development can be taken on board and people who are bringing in such initiatives need to supported. This is very ok and it’s the way of go. Mind you this has been said before but we need to be more serious so that it should not end up by being just mere rhetoric,” said the expert.
However an official from the Tobacco Control Commission recently downplayed the impact of the decision by the American government saying tobacco is still a viable crop which cannot easily be substituted in the country.
Meanwhile, Dzombe has announced that Mpamantha Rice Factory in Nkhota Kota is going to start processing paddy next week and those interested to purchase the produce should contact the company.
Mpamantha is one of the biggest rice factories in this part of Africa.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :