Agriculture is the backbone of Malawi’s economy. It contributes about 30 percent to the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The sector accounts for about 85 percent of the national employment in Malawi.
Agriculture development and food security are significant in achieving sustainable economic growth and poverty alleviation. Improved agricultural production, diversification and commercialisation provide influence for smallholder farmers to improve their standard of living thereby enhancing the national development framework.
The Gift of the Givers Foundation, a local charity organisation works to compliment the government’s efforts by implementing various projects, in rural areas, to encourage self-reliance among the communities.
In order to mitigate the levels of poverty and hunger, which are prevalent in most rural areas, Gift of the Givers Foundation, has established two irrigation schemes namely Sagonja and Nankuyu at Lifa and Kane villages in Blantyre and Chiradzulu districts respectively.
The projects are supported by the Japanese Government through its Embassy in Malawi with a grant valued at a $86,298 [K64.1 million] under the Aids Scheme for Project for Improvement of Agriculture Production through construction Irrigation facilities.
Gift of the Givers Malawi Chairperson, Gaffar Jakhura, said the two schemes were designed with full cooperation and guidance of Government engineers from the Department of Irrigation.
“Sagonja irrigation scheme uses a unique irrigation system that utilises electric-driven submersible pumps to bring water into eight overhead tanks that have a capacity of 5,000 liters each, making 40,000 liters, for watering the gardens through 63 hydrants,” said Jakhura.
He added that another uniqueness of the system is that it relies on single-phase electricity for the installed single-phase pumps.
He further said the irrigation schemes are expected to benefit 200 farmers who have been allocated 0.1 hectares each for irrigating their individual choice of crops from their respective plots.
Jakhura said 20 hectares of land have been utilised, with over 10,000 households standing to benefit from the two schemes, both directly and indirectly.
As for Nankuyu, Jakhura said the scheme utilizes two submersible electric pumps, with two electrical booster pumps, to supply water to the surface tank having a capacity of 75,000 liters feeding into the canal irrigation system.
He said the advantage of the Nankuyu Scheme is that it is on the banks of Chisombedzi Stream from where, in the event of water shortages, supplementary water can be sourced.
“It is pleasing and encouraging to note that farmers at Nankuyu were able to realise over K1.4 million generated from sales of green maize in their first season of utilising the new irrigation facility within a period of four months. All in all, over 10,000 households stand to benefit from these projects,” he said.
Jakhura thanked the People of Japan for their generous and continued support to Malawi in different areas aimed at improving the standard of living for most Malawians.
Japanese Ambassador, Kae Yanagisawa, said her government is committed to support Malawi in making sure that Malawians are food secure all year round through the establishment and promotion of irrigation farming.
“The irrigation projects are our Embassy’s way of complementing the government’s efforts in its fight against hunger as well as the effects of climate change on food security. Irrigation farming, to ensure food security at household level,” she said.
Yanagisawa said irrigation will help to sustain Malawi’s agro-based economy with the possibility of harvesting, at least, two crop circles a year as opposed to a single one during the rainy season.
Both Jakhura and the Ambassador, Yanagisawa, advised the farmers to diligently take care of the system so that it serves the intended purpose and ensure that the irrigation facilities are not vandalised.
The farmers were further asked to guard the irrigation schemes jealously as they belong to none other than the farmers themselves as well as their immediate families.
Before handing over the project, Gift of the Givers, in collaboration with the Government’s agricultural extension officers, provided training to the beneficiaries on general agriculture, crop husbandry, and agronomy with the specific emphasis on cultivation of cash crops as well as offering training in group dynamics such as leadership skills.
This has been done to ensure sustainability of the two projects.
From its own financial resources, Gift of the Givers, supplied farmers at both Sagonja and Nankuyu schemes with bags of farm inputs, each containing 2kg maize seed, 2kg beans/pigeon peas, 10 kilogrammes Urea fertilisers, 10kg NPK fertiliser to a total value of K7 million.
Each farmer’s pack on average yielded 12 bags of maize weighing 50kg each as well as 2 bags of beans of 50kg each, which are enough to feed a family of six to seven for a year.
As a way of reaching out to more sponsors, Gift of the Givers has also uploaded a video of the irrigation activities on you tube.
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