President Peter Muthalika on Tuesday July 2 commissioned Bwanje irrigation dam in the area of Chief Kachindamoto in Dedza District.
Speaking at Msekeni Primary School ground, Muthalika said the dam which will supply water to the existing 800 hectare irrigation scheme will transform the lives of people in Dedza.
“The construction of Bwanje dam is a milestone in attaining my government’s aspirations of developing the irrigation sector for effective contribution to poverty reduction and acceleration of economic growth and development,” Muthalika said.
“The dam will ensure that there is adequate water for crop production starting from dry season which was not the case in the previous years as only about a quarter of the scheme was irrigated during the dry season due to low flows,” he added.
He therefore urged people to desist from activities that would cause degradation of the catchment area so as to have sustainable supply of water for irrigation and other socio-economic activities.
Mutharika also thanked the European Union (EU) for the support in the construction of the dam saying his government is very serious on food security through irrigation.
“I want Malawi to be a hunger free nation as this is the vision of the DPP government,” he said.
Mutharika also said the phase two of the project will see the dam supplying piped water to the surrounding community hence improving lives through irrigation activity and supply of potable water.
In her remarks European Eunion (EU) Team Leader for Infrastructure Social Sector in Malawi, Ms Virginie Laffauer said her organisation would continue supporting the government.
She said they have pumped in 69 million Euros to support the agricultural sector in the establishment of irrigation schemes, construction of dams of which about 11 million Euros were for the construction of Bwanje Dam.
Laffauer added EU wants to improve the livelihoods of rural communities to sustain viable social economic development through irrigation, water resource and construction of dams in order to reach 9,000 hactares and atotal of 42,000 farmers in the country.
Speaking earlier, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Kondwani Nankhumwa said Bwanje dam is 40.1 metres high and holds about 5.6 million cubic metres of water enough to enable farmers in the Bwanje valley irrigation scheme irrigate 800 hectares throughout the year making a total of 1600 hectares for double cropping.
“The water retained by the dam will help farmers in the Bwanje valley rice irrigation scheme significantly contribute to national food security and incomes,” Nankhumwa said.
He added that the ministry has plans to raise the dam by a further 19 metres in phase II so as to increase the capacity of the reservoir to 31.5 million cubic metres and that this would enable 5,200 hectares to be irrigated in wet and dry seasons.
In his remarks, President of the Water Users Association of Malawi, Timothy Kaupembe said that the dam will enable farmers to harvest 8000 metric tonnes of rice every year.
“We usually harvest 4000 metric tonnes of rice per year during rainy season so with the coming in of the dam it will be double making it 8000 metric tonnes,” he added.
He therefore asked government to help the farmers in finding markets for their produce.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :