A lmost 120 chronically food insecure households in Chikwawa District have, from this year, all the reason to smile, thanks to the solar irrigation project which has brought food and income in their homes.
Government last week revealed that 6.5 million Malawians face hunger in the 2016/17 consumption season.
The project—which is being implemented by Stephanos Foundation, a charitable non-governmental organisation (NGO)—targets 120 vulnerable households in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Maseya in the district whose capacity to produce, in the past two years, has been thwarted by climate change induced floods last year and dry spells this year.
Speaking during the tour of the 10-hectare Katemalinga Solar Irrigation Scheme in T/A Maseya’s area last week, Chikwawa district crops officer Lewis Lipenga hailed Stephanos for empowering the communities with means to produce food through irrigation.
“Those that planted in January have already started harvesting. We have almost 120 households in the scheme—each occupying 0.1 hectares. With such an area, one is able to produce 16 to 22 bags of maize. Further, the scheme has the capacity for households to produce thrice a year,” he said, adding:
He added that being a solar powered scheme, it is affordable for the farmers to maintain because they do not need fuel for powering it.
Chimwemwe Salie Hara, programme manager of Stephanos Foundation, said the project was hatched to help local communities adapt to effects of climate-change induced dry spells and floods which impacts on their capacity to produce rain fed food crops.
“We offer them capacity building and also the technology,” he said.
He added that the rest, including renovations of the machine, is done by them.
“What we intend to achieve is food security at household level. We feel proud when people like Thomson whom, today last year could not even afford a meal, have all the food this year. This is development,” he said.
Besides achieving that, Hara also underlined that the project, through advising farmers to grow vegetables and other crops, aims at increasing household incomes for the communities at household level.
The project is also implemented in Blantyre Rural targeting 80 households. n