By Sam Majamanda
Phalombe, June 7, Mana: Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Francis Kasaila on Saturday toured two irrigation projects that are expected to benefit at least 500 farm families in the district.
The schemes fall under the Agriculture Commercialization (AGCOM) Project and are being upgraded from water can to pump-powered watering after they were destroyed by the 2019 Cyclone Idai.
Speaking during the tour, the minister said the initiative was part of government’s drive to end hunger and create business opportunities for farmers who are expected to turn commercial.
“These two schemes which should be ready by October, 2020, will contribute to ending hunger not only in Phalombe, but the rest of the country because we aim at improving farming business so that smallholder farmers can produce to sell.
“This will ensure that others who do not farm can still buy food and remain secure from hunger,” said Kasaila.
He further emphasized on the need for Malawi to invest more in irrigation farming considering challenges that continue to haunt rain-fed agriculture as continuously witnessed through the recent farming seasons.
The AGCOM is a flagship project aimed at transforming smallholder agriculture from mostly subsistence to commercial.
Addressing beneficiaries of the project, Chairperson for Phalombe District Council, Councilor Fedson Thomas challenged people of the district to provide security to all the equipment installed at the two schemes.
Thomas further called on government to intervene in securing lucrative markets for the farmers to benefit from their produce.
One of the beneficiaries, Odilo Kalaliki who is also Secretary for Kanjedza Irrigation Scheme, raised hopes that the scheme would transform farmers’ lives in his area as it is likely to increase their production of legumes and cereals for sale.
Malawi Government is implementing the AGCOM Project with World Bank credit financing. The two schemes (Kanjedza and Salankhuku) in Phalombe are worth over K1.1 billion.