Greenbelt Authority (GA) has stamped an indication to start developing a $40 million (about K31 billion) irrigation rice scheme in Traditional Authority (T/A) Kyungu in Karonga District in May this year.
The scheme is aimed at developing 1,000 hectares of irrigable land for increased crop production and productivity where about 5,000 metric tonnes of rice would be produced annually.
GA acting Chief Executive Officer Amon Mluwira said establishment of the scheme will come with construction of a one agro-processing facility for value addition to increase domestic and export markets.
Mluwira said the primary target group will be smallholder farmers who will have access to modern irrigation infrastructure.
“This is one of the new projects that the authority is in the process of undertaking in -Karonga District. A feasibility study and scheme design were done over a 700-hectare scheme and scheme development work started with preliminary activities like land parceling, production of land ownership certificates and project designing.
“Of course section of that 1000 hectares has some issues. That is why we have constantly been engaging with the chiefs and the locals as well. But on the other potion, around 500 hectares, we do not have issues and we will proceed with the development of the scheme,” he said.
Mluwira said farmers are expected to form an association which will enter into partnership with GA and create a joint venture company to manage the scheme.
The proposed shareholding is 49 percent GA and 51 percent association of farmers.
Karonga District Director of Planning and Development David Gondwe said the initiative is economically sound as the targeted area is expected to develop.
“The scheme is a good start because it means that rice will be sold at good prices,” he said.
Out of the $40 million total capital for the project, $15 million will be used for scheme construction and $25 million for agro-processing facility.
It is expected that at least 14,000 individual farmers will benefit from the scheme creating about 300 permanent jobs.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
He is however flexible as he also writes about current affairs and national issues.