Agricultural Transformation Initiative impressed with irrigation farmers in Dedza

Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) and Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) have hailed farmers who are growing various crops using irrigation at Golomoti and Ntakataka EPAs in Dedza.

Speaking on Tuesday at Kam’tsitsi village, TA Kachindamoto after touring Dzalanyama and Mgunda Schemes, ATI Country Director Candida Nakhumwa said as ATI they are really happy with what the farmers are doing in Dedza.

Candida Nankhumwa

“We are actually very impressed considering the amount of money we invested in this project and what the farmers have come with, out of these irrigation schemes. You saw that we have 10 hectares of solar irrigation and that is just really to show that there is a lot that we can achieve with the sunshine that we have in Malawi. You saw how much crops they are able to harvest and testimonies from the farmers that they are able to produce more than twice a year and it’s quite impressive what we have seen today,” said Nakhumwa.

She also noted that as ATI, with the investment they have made so far, the best way to ensure sustainability is by enhancing resilience with these irrigation schemes and also encouraging farmers to diversify.

“We came up with this project in response to cyclone Idai which damaged some of the infrastructure that was already here.

“So we will be planting bamboos along the irrigation scheme but also in farmers fields and in addition to that we continue to encourage farmers to diversify as you know as ATI what we are looking at is diversification.

“Some of them are growing maize and selling it as green crop but we have also seen more farmers doing vegetable farming where they are growing onions, sweet potatoes and that’s really bringing a lot of money for them,” said Nakhumwa.

She also added that as ATI they are not just looking at encouraging production because they know that farmers on their own are capable of producing literally anything.

“Farmers when you tell them that there is a market for this crop they will produce it, so it is our responsibility to help the farmers to find market for what they are producing because if they don’t get a market they are discouraged. So in collaboration with FUM and indeed other private sectors we are looking at off-takers so that whatever produce farmers come up with they should be a ready market for that,” said Nankhumwa.

In his remarks, Farmers Union of Malawi President Frighton Njolomole was also impressed with what has happened at Mgundu and Dzalanyama schemes.

“They are growing bananas as well as sweet potatoes and also here at Mgundu they are busy growing maize and some tomatoes, onions, they have also started growing bamboos. I can say overall I am very impressed the people we have around here are very hard working people,” said Njolomole.

He also noted that the initiative will spur the government’s call for achievement of commercial agriculture in the country and it will also take the Malawi to somewhere.

“We have already seen the fruits of this initiative it is definitely going to take our country at a certain level to the great heights, we just wish the government to continue with this initiative so that Malawi can actually go back to where it was some years back. Our economy has been affected and with the help of farmers Malawi can pick up as I usually say farmers in Malawi are just like soldiers and we ready to deliver and we have got these kinds of initiatives,” said Njolomole.

One of the farmers who has benefited from the project and who happens to be the chairman of Mgundu irrigation scheme Piyele Katola said their lives have changed because of the scheme.

“I have really benefited a lot from irrigation farming. For example, I have managed to buy a motorbike with the money I got from this farming and I am planning to do a lot with the money I will be getting from this irrigation farming.

“I applaud ATI and FUM for coming up with this project because many farmers including me, our lives have really changed in many ways and I appeal to ATI and FUM to take this initiative to other districts so that other farmers can also benefit and also to continue help us in different ways because on our own we cannot do a lot,” said Katola.

Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) with Funding from Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) implemented a rebuilding smallholder farmers’ livelihoods through Agriculture Recovery project in Golomoti and Ntakataka EPAs of Dedza district.

The project was designed to respond to the impact of the floods that resulted from the Tropical Cyclone Idai which affected more than one million households in the country. The floods also damaged irrigation infrastructure in the affected districts.

The aim of the project is to improve food, nutrition and income security of the flood affected households in targeted districts.