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Ministry for intensified irrigation farming

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By Gospel Mwalwanda, contributor:

Output for agricultural commodities could increase substantially if irrigation farming is scaled up at all levels, the Ministry of Agriculture has said.

This, the ministry said, could also help increase the sector’s share to gross domestic product.

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Principal Secretary for Irrigation Geoffrey Mamba said this after touring projects under the Shire Valley Transformation Programme (SVTP) in Chikwawa District.

“We are reaching a stage where irrigation is the in-thing. It is the future of agriculture in the country,” he said.

The Ministry of Agriculture is implementing the SVTP through the Department of Irrigation (DoI).

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SVTP is reportedly the biggest irrigation project in the Southern African Development Community region, building a 118-km main canal from Kapichira Dam in Chikwawa to Bangula in Nsanje.

It will irrigate 43,370 hectares of land by abstracting water from the Shire River at Kapichira Dam and conveying it by gravity to irrigable areas in Chikwawa and Nsanje districts through secondary canals.

The main objective of the SVTP is to increase agricultural productivity and promote commercialisation among the two districts’ targeted 223,000 farmers.

The 14-year multi-billion Kwacha programme is also intended to improve sustainable management and utilisation of natural resources in Chikwawa and Nsanje.

The World Bank, African Development Bank, Opec Fund for International Development, the Global Environmental Facility and the Malawi Government are funding the first phase of the SVTP. The World Bank is currently funding the second phase of the project.

Mamba said the implementation of the SVTP demonstrates the government’s desire to commercialise agriculture and improve farmers’ livelihoods through increased crop production and revenue.

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