The World Bank has pumped in $80 million (about MK57 billion) towards the Malawi Flood Emergency Recovery Project, an initiative which aims at helping over 25, 000 farmers in 15 districts recover from the floods which hit the country early last year.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and water development George Chaponda disclosed this on Monday when he launched a treadle pumps distribution exercise in Chikwawa.
President Peter Mutharika declared the 15 districts of Blantyre, Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe, Mulanje, Zomba and Thyolo, among others, areas of disaster following the devastating floods which saw at least 176 people being killed and about 200,000 more displaced.
The declaration followed the president’s plea for humanitarian assistance from well-wishers as well as development partners and other countries.
And speaking at the start of the distribution exercise at Sande in Chikwawa, Chaponda said the financial assistance from the World Bank is part of its response from government’s plea for humanitarian assistance.
He said government has already purchased 4,460 modern treadle pumps to be distributed in the affected districts as one way of enabling the farmers recover from their losses.
“As a result of the president’s appeal for support from the international community, the World bank has given Malawi $80 million to be used in empowering the livelihoods of people in the affected districts, enhance the affected district’s resilience to disasters and also to help the farmers recover from the devastating floods, as you know most of them lost their crops due to the floods,” said Chaponda.
Chaponda also said this time around the treadle pumps will make an impact as communities have now realised that irrigation farming remains the solution to the country’s growing demand for food especially in the wake of recent climate change trends.
“As government we are now moving away from the kind of farming meant for consumption only, so we are encouraging these farmers plus others across the country to embrace irrigation farming as a means to growing maize twice or three times a year so that apart from achieving household food security, the farmers should have some more food to sale,” he said.
The launch saw government distributing 20 and 62 treadle pumps to Sande and Enoch Irrigation schemes in Chikwawa and Blantyre respectively.
Sande Irrigation scheme’s chairperson Aluvera Kachisa said the treadle pumps will enhance irrigation farming in the area.
“These treadle pumps have come at an opportune time when we as a scheme want increase our hactarage to about 50 this year,” he said.
And in a separate interview Chaponda also disclosed that government is changing its approach to the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) in the wake of the climate change.
Among others, Chaponda said government will reduce the number of beneficiaries from 1.5 million to 800 000 from the 2016 to 2017 national budget.
Finance minister Goodall Gondwe delivered the 2016/17 national budget in Parliament last Friday which saw the programme receiving about K31 billion Kwacha down from last financial year’s K63 billion.
And Chaponda said the change in allocation is an indication that government is also changing the way it has been implementing the programme.
“As government, instead of supporting the most vulnerable, we will now target productive farmers, those farmers who have at least some land, the idea is to make sure that those who benefit from the programme this year grow enough food and even surplus food for sale to Admarc[Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation],” he said.
He also said the most vulnerable will be reached with other programmes this year not the fisp.
The Fisp has in recent time been criticised with some quarters saying government through the programme is investing in consumption.