By Audrey Kapalamula:
President Peter Mutharika has said advancing irrigation farming is critical to promoting food security in the country.
Mutharika made the remarks yesterday when he opened Bwanje Valley Dam in Dedza District, earmarked for improving rice production.
“Our goal, in the near future, is to generate electricity from the dam. Right now, we are harvesting water for rice production. Let us unite and promote the dam. Avoid unnecessary cutting down of trees,” he said.
Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa, said the ministry intended to increase its capacity to allow more farmers to benefit from activities around the infrastructure.
“Climate change has affected most water sources that help in irrigation development. Let me ask chiefs and community members to protect the area,” he said
European Union (EU) has funded the construction of the dam to the tune of €11.1 million.
EU Charge D’affaires, Virginie Lafleur-Tighe, said there was need to look beyond infrastructure development and ensure good management of water resources.
“We believe that investment in irrigation will only be viable through a commercial agriculture approach and creating an enabling environment for the private sector. The dam will enable farming families to exploit the full potential of the scheme,” she said.
EU is supporting the implementation of Agricultural Sector Wide Approach and Green Belt Initiative and the dam is one of the central components.
It is expected that the dam will benefit 1,778 households who will be able to grow rice, maize, beans, tomatoes and sweet potatoes.
Dedza East legislator, Patrick Bandawe, hailed the government for the support, saying it would reduce poverty levels.
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