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Tuesday, 16 April 2019 05:51

Msaza Cooperative geared to sustain project in Salima

Written by  Trouble Ziba
Members of Msaza Cooperative in Salima harvesting Soya Members of Msaza Cooperative in Salima harvesting Soya

Lilongwe, April 16,  2019: Farmers under Msaza Horticulture Cooperative in Salima District are optimistic they will sustain the Farm Input Diversification Program (FIDP) Phase 11-initiatated project as long as there is reliable water supply for their fruits.

The farmers told journalists recently when the latter toured the cooperative in Group Village Head Kapuzira, Traditional Authority Khombedza in the district.

The European Union funded-project started in 2017 under FIDP Phase 11, to improve nutrition among households and increase their income.

The project aims at improving the livelihoods and nutritional status of rural households through increased and diversified production and better market access.

Under the project, Msaza Cooperative farmers grow mangoes, ground nuts and soya on the six-hectare land that was provided to them by traditional leaders.

The cooperative chairperson, Ruben Mkwezalamba, told journalists at the site the major problem that was going to threaten growth of mangoes was lack of reliable water source to irrigate the fruit.

However, he said with solar panels about to be installed to pump water from the borehole into the tank to irrigate their fruits, the cooperative is geared to sustain activities even when funding phases out in 2020.

“We are not worried that the project will phase out in 2020, what we want is just to have water.

“Then we will be ready to continue with project activities even when EU phases out funding,” said Mkwezalamba.

Using part of the 2.8 million Euros (over K2.3 billion) EU pumped into the project, Malawi Mangoes which is implementing the project in the district is already erecting solar equipment which will be used to pump water from the borehole into the tank.

Once the task is completed, the problem of water scarcity to water the mango fruits will be solved, thus sustainability of the project will be guaranteed.

Since the project started in 2017, the farmers have been growing and selling CG7 ground nuts and soya. Soya is planted in spaces between the mango plants.

Apart from lack of reliable water source, other problems cited by both the farmers and Malawi Mangoes Project Manager were bush fires set by mice hunters and free-range grazing goats which damaged the mango plants as they fed on the leaves.

“We as Malawi Mangoes started working with 5000 farmers in the area in 2011 and every farmer had 800 to 1000 mango trees, but the farmers’ profits were not enough.

“We then provided 60 000 mango trees to farmers in our 11 village orchards in 2013, but the survival rate was poor due to bush fires and goats,” said Victor Mshani, Malawi Mangoes Project Manager.

According to Mshani, under the project, the farmers have made firebreaks around their fruit field and do conduct sensitisation with those who let the goats graze freely so that they can keep them under control.

The project has also trained farmers in growing, caring and grafting mangoes. Msaza Cooperative has about 50 farmers who have a bank account with K400, 000.

The group will have the first harvest of mangoes in 2020, when EU will be phasing out its funding.

However, since the major problem of unreliable water source that could have put the project sustainability into doubt is being solved, farmers under the cooperative are relieved and optimistic they will carry on with the project even after phase out of the EU funding.