For the first time, a comprehensive framework to guide all stakeholders in sustainable development and expansion of the irrigation sector over the next 20 years (2015-2035) has been launched.
The country needs US$2.4 billion to implement the plan which contains four components namely new irrigation development, sustainable irrigation management, capacity building, coordination and management.
The irrigation master plan highlights priority areas for development and investment and also arrangements for improved coordination in implementing irrigation programmes, management and capacity building.
Speaking during the launch in Ntcheu, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza said the plan is aimed at accelerating economic growth, reducing poverty, improving food security and increasing exports.
“Food demand in the country has been steadily increasing because of absolute increase in population which is estimated to be close to 17.7 million. Food production under irrigation is, therefore, seen as one way of improving productivity and increasing production, thereby sustaining more households with increased food and cash crops levels,” he said.
Chiyembekeza further said the plan will address the needs of all stakeholders in the sub-sector and build a foundation for long-term sustainability by maximising participation of non-state actors and confining the role of government to facilitate sustainable irrigation development and management.
According to the minister, major projects planned to be implemented include Shire Valley Irrigation Project, Bwanje Dam, Songwe River, Green Belt Initiative schemes.
Currently, out of the potential of over 408 000 hectares, only about 104,000 has been developed for irrigation purposes.
The plan has been developed with technical assistance from the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (Smec) with funding from World Bank.
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