18 March 2018
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Wednesday, 13 December 2017 10:27

20,000 households to benefit from Rural Irrigation Program

Written by  Patrick Ndawala

Machinga, December 13, 2017: Nearly 20,000 farming families from eight districts across the country stand a chance to benefit from a K60 billion worth Program for Rural Irrigation Development (PRIDE).

Machinga District Irrigation Officer, Henry Msambakunsi, made the revelation on Monday at Machinga Teachers Training College in Liwonde during an extra ordinary full council meeting.

“This program will benefit 19,500 households drawn from all the targeted districts. Out of the total, 17, 500 have been targeted for both irrigated and rain-fed agriculture whilst 2, 000 small holder farmer households will only benefit through rain-fed agriculture,” he said.

He said the seven-year project, which will be implemented in Chitipa, Karonga, Rumphi, Zomba, Nkhata Bay, Chiradzulu and Phalombe Districts, is aimed at making rural communities resilient to food insecurity and be able to overcome climatic and economic risks. 

According to Msambakunsi, the project has two components namely irrigation development and catchment management where land and water management systems for smallholder households on both rain-fed and irrigated land will be developed.

“The other component is the agriculture and marketing linkage which is aimed at developing environmentally and economically sustained agriculture system,” he explained.

He added the program would not dictate farmers on what crop they should be growing but rather it would encourage them to cultivate crops that can easily be sold at the market.

“We want farmers to be well connected by identifying a market for their crops. We don’t want a situation where farmers have produced a lot but they do not have where to sell their crops,” he said.

The district irrigation officer further said the program would require over 17,550 hectares of land with 12, 300 hectares for rain-fed agriculture and 5,250 hectares for irrigation agriculture in all the eight targeted districts.

Msambakunsi therefore urged Machinga District Council members that included chiefs and councilors to sensitize community members of the project benefits which would in turn encourage them to give out their land for the program.

He, however, explained that the program would give priority to community members whose land would be used for irrigation scheme.

“But we will also encourage land owners to share their land with others because we want maximum utilization of land. The program will, of course, pay the land owners for accepting that their land be used by others,” he explained.

In Machinga, traditional authorities Mposa and Chamba areas have been identified as possible areas where irrigation scheme would be established. The two areas were selected based on, not only availability of land, but also water resources, according to Msambakunsi.

Apart from PRIDE, Msambakunsi said another project called Enhancing Resilient for Agro ecological System Project (ESRASP) would simultaneously be implemented to address land degradation, maintain agro biodiversity and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

He said Global Environment Facility is funding ESRASP to the tune of K7.8 billion.

Paramount Chief Kawinga, whilst welcoming the project, said there was need to sensitize communities, especially members of Area Development Committees on the importance of the project.

He stressed the importance of the implementers to fully engage people involved in the project activities.
“Those who would give their land need to be assured that they would not lose the land after the project. The same should be told to those who would be using other people’s land that after the project they need to give back the land to the owners,” he said.  


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