Illovo Sugar hands over solar-power irrigation scheme to communities

Illovo Malawi Donation

Illovo Sugar (Malawi) plc together with two other partners, have handed over a 19.5 hectare solar-powered irrigation scheme to people from 13 villages at Nchalo in Chikwawa district.

The irrigation scheme which is being implemented by the sugar producer together with Palladium plc but was funded by USAID under its Feed the Future Agricultural Diversification project, was handed over to communities from the area of Paramount Chief Lundu in Chikwawa on Friday, 1st March, 2024.

In his speech during the handover ceremony at Bester village, Illovo Sugar Malawi General Manager responsible for Nchalo Estate, Ricky Pillay, said the idea behind the initiative is to help communities to become self dependent and food secured at all times.

Pillay said the company alongside their partners, were asked to help issues of hunger and poverty in the area, hence the Ntondo drip irrigation scheme and he has since expressed commitment to extend the initiative to other surrounding areas of the district.

While indicating that the 19.5 hectare scheme is accommodating 153 male and 168 female farmers, totalling to 321 farmers, the Nchalo Estate General Manager, announced plans to extend the scheme so that it accommodates more communities.

“So as the community indicated that they have additional land that they want to develop, we will be engaging with them to find out what will be required from Illovo and our other partners. We want to bring people like Unitrans that is working on our estate, other cane cutting contractors, everybody that is involved in Illovo sugar. We are going to be bringing them on board to help our communities.

“As you can see, our posters talk about thriving community. Illovo can’t thrive if the community is struggling that’s our belief and so we want to work alongside the community in developing and growing each other,” said Pillay.

On his part, Group Village Headman Tizyola who represented Traditional Authority Lundu, thanked Illovo Sugar Malawi for the irrigation scheme which he described as life-changing and the way to go considering the prolonged dry spells which recently hit the area and some parts of the country.

“Recently, the country was hit by dry spells and this area it was just too much. So, we would like to thank Illovo Sugar Malawi and all other partners for this life-changing initiative. Because of climate change, the rains are unpredictable and we think irrigation is the way to go.

“However, we want to ask them and other partners to help us more. The land here is more than 70 hectors but we are only farming on 19.5 hectors, which means there is still more idle land here and we feel like the scheme can be extended farther,” explained Group Village Headman Tizyola.

Currently, the scheme members self-finance all agriculture inputs which include buying seeds, fertilizer, labor for planting, weeding, etc and they pay a little membership fee which is used to pay for security guards, pump station operators and maintenance of the scheme.