President Professor Arthur Mutharika has launched the Shire Valley Transformation Project,which Malawians had to wait for 80 years to see,it’s implementation.As it was initiated in 1940,all previous administration have failed to see it fly.
The launch took place in Chikwawa under the theme: ‘Irrigation and cash crops for better life’. Mutharika said through the project, government is trying to move from rainfed agricultural dependence to irrigation farming so that the country should have food irrespective of good rains or not.
He further said through the initiative farmers will be able to produce crops with low costs but realizing more income which will transform their lives and in turn develop the communities.
“We have the land, we have the water and we have our minds to think… We have no reason to be poor if we can use our brains wisely,” Mutharika said.
The president said it is the desire of his administration to bring development to people instead of having high urban migration in search of economic and employment opportunities.
He said government would ensure such plans were sustained by providing essential services like food security, access to electricity, good road network for farmers to transport their produce, potable and clean water, health, education, technical and vocational training.
The project will cover 43,000 hectares of land which will benefit 28,000 small holder farmers in addition to Kasinthula Cane Growers.
The farmers will be operating in blocks divided in 500 hectares.
The project is supported with additional funding from the World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and OFID.
In her remarks, Acting AfDB Country Manager, Eyerusalem Fasika said the project is a great milestone towards the realization of the country’s aspirations for wealth creation and improving the socio-economic well-being of Malawians.
“The dependence on rain fed agriculture leaves the agricultural production systems vulnerable to weather shocks and disasters,” Fasika said.
“Since the country is gifted with abundant water and irrigable land especially in the lower shire; developing a large irrigation scheme in this area is a timely intervention to increase agricultural productivity and food security as well as value addition for both domestic and international markets,” she added.
Fasika added that about US$224.22 million (an equivalent of K175 billion) is already available for phase one of the project.
Paramount Chief Lundu said people in the area have been waiting for the project for a long time which will enable farmers cultivate various crops throughout the year.
Lundu dispelled claims that the project is a campaign gimmick by the president.
He said when people start benefiting from the project, government will save money which was used for relief food as the communities will be food secure.