Hundreds of farmers in Nsanje North are in dire stress as farming operations have stalled at Makhapha solar powered irrigation scheme, a few months after the multimillion Kwacha irrigation scheme was handed over to farmers for use.
The scheme’s Chairperson Davite Mainje has confirmed the development in an interview saying their first crops are already drying up due to malfunctioning equipment.
Mainje said the malfunctioning of the equipment has come about due to substandard work on the part of the contractors that were hired to construction works.
He said their production will be heavily affected as they have been failing to irrigate their crops for three weeks now since the scheme stopped operating.
“Just imagine, this time around our crops are drying up as it has taken about three weeks without irrigating them as the equipment stopped functioning.
“Despite our efforts reporting the issue to the authorities in the district, nothing has been done to ensure that the problems are rectified. As farmers, we have fears as really our irrigation scheme will attain the expected food security and income at a household level in the work of sporadic rainfall as was designed,” said a very demoralized looking Mainje.
The district’s irrigation Engineer Edward Mkandawire has acknowledged the concerns saying the system is indicating that it is under voltage which can be due to dead panels among other things.
Mkandawire however was quick to say that the problems would be rectified as the whole system need to be checked.
“I acknowledge the challenges being faced by the farmers at Makhapha irrigation scheme. The contractor did his work superbly but only that the 2015 floods damaged some structures on the scheme. Let me assure the farmers that the whole system will be checked and resolve the equipment faults for effective performance,” Mkandawire made the commitment in an interview.
Makhapha irrigation scheme is covering about 150 hectares.