Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Food Security Allan Chiyembekeza on Tuesday called on the private sector to invest more in solar-powered irrigation to help improve the food situation in Malawi.
Chiyembekeza said this when he toured Thyolansanu Farm in Mchinji to appreciate how solar-powered irrigation system operates and weigh the possibilities of whether the system could be adapted to smallholder farmers.gat
Thyolansanu Farm is being piloted by the Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (Fisd) formed in 2005 by Malawian local irrigation and water management specialists and environmentalists. The aim of the foundation is to promote sustainable irrigated agriculture through use of multiple water sources.
Chiyembekeza commended the system, saying it could help improve agricultural productivity among smallholder farmers.
“The system can work for up to 20 years without injecting additional money. Therefore, our role as government would be to mobilise farmers in rural communities to set up systems such as these, especially where farmers are working in groups,” said Chiyembekeza.
The minister noted that the challenge for most farmers would be capital required to implement the programme.
“About K20 million has been spent to run Thyolansanu Farm and you can judge from there, that this would be a big problem for our smallholder farmers,” he said.
He thus called on the private sector to emulate what Fisd is doing in complementing government efforts in improving the food situation in the country.
Fisd managing director Frank Mwenechanya said the goal of the foundation is to help local farmers with new farming techniques that will directly improve production.
“The benefits of solar powered irrigation system are that local farmers are able to run the irrigation farming without investing much,” said Mwenechanya.