Parliament has authorised government to borrow about K43.8 billion ($60 million) from International Fund for Agricultural Development for rural irrigation development nationwide targetting about 975 000 people.
Yesterday, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe presented the bill to Parliament which he said was aimed at developing resilient land and water management system for smallholder households on both rain-fed and irrigated land.
The Bill reads in part: “To address rain-fed and irrigated elements of the farming system, programme will engage the villages cluster around the irrigation scheme earmarked.”
The programme will target selected areas which will include some 5 200 hectares of irrigated land and 12 300 hectares of rain-fed land.
“An estimate of 19 500 smallholder household representing a populations of 975 000 will be targeted by the programme with emphasis on poor, women and female-headed households and the youth,” reads the Bill.
However, the Bill attracted challenges from several parliamentarians who, among other things, pointed out that government is concentrating on social programmes more than economic programmes.
Other members of Parliament (MPs) raised concerns on the environmental degradation that would follow programmes of that magnitude.
Salima Central MP Felix Jumbe (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) said most programmes that government was pursuing would not help the country because they are social in nature.
Jumbe said if government was to produce a list of agriculture programmes it will show that none is of economic nature.
But Gondwe said it was his government policy to concentrate on social programmes in an effort to uplift the lives of the poor in the country. n
Madonna to tour QECH project
nited States of America (USA) pop star Madonna will this Sunday visit Malawi to assess progress being undertaken by her charity, Raising Malawi.
Raising Malawi executive director Sarah Ezzy said in a statement yesterday the Material Girl will visit Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre where her charity is building a two-storey free-standing 50-bed paediatric surgical ward replete with an intensive care unit (ICU).
Reads a note from Raising Malawi: “The new facility, which will be completed by the end of the year , will have three operating theatres for surgery in children, a 50-bed ward, a day clinic, and the country’s first ever paediatric intensive care unit.”
Ezzy said after touring the construction site, the singer will brief journalists on the projects.
In November 2014, Madonna announced that Raising Malawi would be constructing the paediatric ward as one way of reducing pressure that exists due to shortage of surgical paediatric wards in the country.
A post on Raising Malawi website says the new facility will also become a training centre of excellence for southern Africa, with more local doctors acquiring the skills needed to perform paediatric surgery.
Madonna first came to Malawi in 2006 when she adopted then one-year-old David Banda at an orphanage in Mchinji.
She returned in 2009 and adopted her second Malawian child, Mercy Chifundo James, at another orphanage.
During her last visit to Malawi in November 2014, the pop star was appointed Malawi’s Goodwill Ambassador for Child Welfare by President Peter Mutharika.
Following a meeting which Mutharika and Madonna had that time, the President hailed the diva’s plans to construct the paediatric surgery and intensive care unit.