Despite government emphasizing promotion of irrigation farming through the Green Belt Initiative (GBI) to make the country independent of rain-fed agriculture and improved food security, the situation is different on the ground as the initiative is not fully operational due to inadequate funding.
People who are surrounded by the water sources may find it difficult to bring this water into their fields because they need long pipes and other materials. Meanwhile, villagers around the area of Chadzunda and Mpemba in Traditional Authority Nsomba; Blantyre have commended Islamic Relief (IR) Malawi for the support over the irrigation farming it introduced in the area
Mia: This is the organization’s intervention on hunger crisis the country is facing
Islamic Relief Malawi introduced the project last year in July with the funding from the Middle East and the members of the community have already started benefiting from the project as they are able to grow different crops throughout the year.
IR Head of Programs Sherifa Mia said she decided to implement the project as one way of responding to the hunger crisis as the result of last year’s floods.
“The project started last year after the floods. A lot of farmers lost their crops and after the coordinated meeting with the officials from the ministry of agriculture, irrigation and water development they requested us to assist them in irrigation farming. They suggested some the areas which we can help around Blantyre and after our assessment, we really found that a lot of farmers needed a hand,” Mia said.
She further said her organization, later, three irrigation schemes; Mtemaumo, Mandimu A and Mandimu B. which are currently operational.
Part of the field at Mtemaumo Irrigation Scheme
“Before Islamic Relief, only 25 hectors were being used for irrigation farming. So when we came we constructed the water canals of over 2500 meters long serving 145 hectors,” said the Head of Programs
It is a project which took them over 200 thousand US Dollars and the organization is planning of extending the same project in other districts to ensure food security.
When asked on how the country will benefit from this program Mia said; “the initiative is there to reduce heavy reliance on rain-fed agriculture which is susceptible to weather shocks and natural disasters and hedge against the negative effects of climate change,”
Baneti: We have already seen the change in our families
“Malawi is seeking to shield progress in food security against drought by concentrating in extensive irrigation farming. This is the motivation for the country’s green belt concept which could be a lasting support for Malawi’s fragile economy,” she concluded.
On her remarks, Chairlady of Mtemaumo Irrigation Scheme Feliya Baneti said the coming in of the Islamic Relief in her area has changed status of many families.
“Our lives have really changed though it is few months since we started this irrigation farming. We are growing different crops like maize, vegetables which help to bring cash to our households. We are now able to send our children to school and expecting to have decent houses,” said Baneti