K175 billion available for biggest agriculture irrigation scheme in Southern Africa – Mutharika

President Peter Mutharika says the K175 billion Shire Valley project will put 100,000 hectares under irrigation in Chikwawa and Nsanje to create the biggest agriculture irrigation scheme in Southern Africa.

Mutharika made the remarks during the launch of the Shire Valley Transformation Programme in Chikwawa on Thursday.

He described the Shire Valley Transformation Programme as a game changer saying over 43,000 hectares of land in Chikwawa and Nsanje will be developed in the first phase.

“When we complete Phase 2 and Phase 3, we will have put more than 100,000 hectares under irrigation in Chikwawa and Nsanje. Once completed this will be probably the biggest agriculture irrigation scheme in Southern Africa,” he said.

Mutharika added that the programme shows that his government is transforming agriculture as farmers in the two districts will move from subsistence farming to commercial farming.

He further said that the programme will use gravity to supply water to the fields which means that farmers will no longer worry about power to pump water to farms, leading to low cost of production for farmers to realize bigger profits.

“In this programme, we will see factories that process our produce into finished products ready for export. This is transformation,” said Mutharika. “Industrialization is coming to Nsanje and Chikwawa.”

The programme is being implemented with support from the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), Nigerian Trust Fund and the Global Environmental Facility.

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 rainfed 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.

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