Vice-President Everton Chimulirenji says the Rural Road Improvement Programme (RRImP) will enhance rural connectivity which has long been a problem facing Malawi’s farming communities.
Speaking during the ground breaking for the construction of the 10kilometre (km) M1 Junction- Mphepozinai Road under the RRImP in Ntcheu on Thursday, Chimulirenji said the project will open up rural Ntcheu and link farmers to the rest of the country.
He said: “The European Union [EU] is supporting the implementation of Malawi’s Agriculture Sector Wide Approach [Aswap] and the Green Belt Initiative aimed at reducing poverty in line with the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy through increased agricultural productivity and food security of rural communities.”
Other districts to benefit from the programme are Lilongwe, Mchinji, Kasungu, Dedza, Ntchisi, Phalombe, Ntcheu, Chitipa, Zomba, Mulanje and Thyolo.
Chimulirenji said the EU is providing 69 million euros towards Aswap and the support includes rehabilitation of 1 200 km of rural roads, establishment of the Irrigation Fund and development of seven medium and large-scale irrigation schemes.
He also said the construction of the Bwanje Valley Dam is part of the Aswap support which will enhance Malawi’s agricultural production.
EU’s Malawi team leader responsible for sustainable agriculture Beatrice Neri said the launch of the K22.245 billion programme for the rehabilitation and upgrading of rural roads will extend to 12 districts and improve rural roads.
“The programme is not just about roads. It’s about improving access to economic and social resources by the rural population especially smallholder farmers,” she said.
Neri said the project will link farmers to markets as well as link communities to schools and hospitals benefitting around 300 000 households. On his part, Minister of Transport and Public Works Ralph Jooma said the project will upgrade 12 roads from earth to bitumen standard apart from rehabilitating 84 others.