The Greenbelt Authority (GBA) says it is geared to establish more irrigation projects in the country as one way of making Malawi a food basket and an agricultural investment destination.
In an interview on the sidelines of the launch and unveiling of the authority’s logo in Lilongwe last week, Principal Secretary for Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Gray Nyandule-Phiri said Malawi has not fully utilised its water resources for a long time; hence, the need to change.
He said: “Malawi has since independence not maximised the abundant natural resources that it is endowed with. This is what prompted government to create the Greenbelt Authority to optimally utilise the resources and to grow the economy through large-scale commercial irrigation farming.”
Nyandule-Phiri said there are huge projects coming up in most parts of the country, including in the Shire Valley and Karonga where feasibility studies are underway.
Besides that, he said other sites have been identified in Mangochi, Dedza and Nkhata Bay where there is 10 000 hectares ideal for rice, cassava, banana and other crops.
In Bwanje, Ntcheu, the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) has identified 2 000 hectares oto carry out irrigation farming while Malawi Police Service(MPS) has identified 1 000 hectares in Mtakataka, Dedza, to grow crops and rear livestock.
“Once we identify money and implement these projects, this country will hardly experience food deficits in future, except of course when natural calamity befalls the entire country,” said Nyandule- Phiri.
GBA chief executive officer Henry Njoloma said Malawi stands to benefit with huge investments in irrigation farming.
“If we had developed irrigation farming, severe drought that hit the country in the past three or so years would not have rendered this country desperate for food as we did,” he said.
Among other projects, GBA requires immediate investments on 1 000 hectares Nthola-Ilora Ngosi Scheme in Karonga, 500- hectare Malombe Project in Mangochi which is suitable for legumes, 10 000 hectares at Mwananjovu Project in Chikwawa and Nsanje which is good for cotton.
GBA is working with Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) at the Nchalo-GBI where they are growing cotton.