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Malawi government wants to improve irrigation farming

Minister of Agriculture Irrigation and Water Development, Allan Chiyembekeza, has reiterated the need for the country to seriously think of shifting from rain-fed agriculture to irrigation farming.

Chiyembekeza made the remarks in Mangochi on Saturday during the opening of a four-day meeting of officials from the ministry.

“Irrigation and water sectors are very important. At the moment, rain-fed agriculture is becoming less effective. Irrigation farming has to be considered,” he said.

During the meeting, officials from the ministry presented reports on the performance of their sectors.

According to a presentation by Director of Irrigation Services, Geoffrey Mamba, Malawi’s irrigation potential remains largely unexploited.

He said out of over 408,000 hectares, only 104,000 (52500 hectares smallholder and 51500 hectares under estates) have been developed for irrigation purposes.

Mamba also said the strategic outcome for the irrigation subsector is to increase agricultural land under irrigation, thereby reducing dependence on rain-fed agriculture, increase agricultural productivity and production, and income levels at both household and national levels.

He said the sector would like to increase land under sustainable irrigation farming to 220,000 hectares by 2035.

Other objectives are to extend cropping opportunities and facilitate crop diversification for both total and supplemental irrigation, create an enabling environment for irrigated agriculture and optimise government investment in irrigation development.

The sector also wants to enhance capacity for irrigated agriculture in the public, parastatal and private sectors in order to facilitate effective generation, dissemination and utilisation of irrigation technologies.

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