Malawi Council for the Handicapped (MACOHA)M has constructed a K10.1 million irrigation system at Ndakwera Resettlement Scheme in Chikhwawa, where visually impaired farmers grow various crops for commercial and subsistence use.
The scheme has been constructed in partnership with Standard Bank Malawi and the Norwegian Church Aid (NAD).
During an appreciation tour of the completed project last week, Executive Director for MACOHA, Peter Ngomwa, said he was very happy to see the irrigation system functioning and urged the farmers to effectively make use of the irrigation system by producing crops throughout the year.
He also emphasized on coordination amongst farmers in order for the scheme to be a success.
“This is a great development which will help increase their yield, help them realize more income after selling the extra produce thereby improving their livelihood. Farmers need to work together in unity to ensure that the project is properly maintained and sustained,” he said.
Ngomwa expressed his gratitude to various stakeholders who funded the project and their concern for their welfare of persons with disabilities. He further appealed to the corporate society to emulate the Norwegian Church Aid and Standard Bank.
“NAD provided solar panels, a 1.6 KVA0 invertor, 24 volts batteries and constructed a 2,500 litres water tank and Standard Bank Malawi who donated K6.3 million. In addition to the funds, proceedings from the flag week were also directed to the project.
“However, despite the irrigation system being completed, there is need for more funds to construct secondary water canals as farmers have improvised with polythene papers for the time being,” he said.
The farmers also thanked MACOHA for facilitating the project.
“We, farmers here at Ndakwera are very grateful to MACOHA. You have always been there for us. This irrigation system will make everything easy for us”, said Eliya Jafilisi, one of the farmers at the scheme.
The irrigation system is a product of the 2017 flag week which is an awareness week conducted annually by MACOHA on issues dealing with persons with disabilities and MACOHA as a whole.
According to Mr. Elvis Katete, the Rehabilitation Officer at MACOHA who also chaired the flag week committee, in 2015there was a complaint from the visually impaired farmers at Ndakwera Resettlement Scheme that they do not yield enough crops every year because of high temperatures in Chikhwawa, making rain fed crop production difficult.
The farmers then requested for solar pump to pump water to the water ways which supply water to the field.
Katete further said that the 2017 flag week was held under the theme Agriculture; Transformative empowerment for sustainable livelihoods for persons with disabilities.
The State President of the Republic of Malawi, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika bought the first flag at 1 million kwacha. The Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare and the then, Minister Dr. Jean Kalilani bought flags at K300, 000 and K26, 000 respectively. The inauguration event raised K17,000 and the Open Day Event outsourced K52, 000.
Funds totaling K2, 450, 000 which was the proceedings from the 2016 flag week was also directed towards the same project.
Ndakwera Resettlement Scheme is one of the three resettlement schemes under MACOHA, catering for persons with disabilities. The other two are Chinguluwe in Salima and Rivirivi in Balaka.