The Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund (Micf) has said it expects to reach out to 1 700 farmers and impact on 7 000 households through its $4 million (K2.9 billion) irrigation window project.
The Micf irrigation window aims to introduce new initiatives that deliver new products, services and business models that link smallholder producers to markets by increasing the production of crops under irrigation, leading to viable self-financed cultivation of irrigated crops.
This is the third component of the fund where matching grants of up to 50 percent of total project value to innovative business projects to help absorb some of the commercial risk in triggering innovation or in speeding up implementation of new business models or technologies that have high social impacts.
Speaking on the sidelines of the launch in Blantyre on Wednesday, the fund project direct Buddhika Samarasinghe said they hope to make a positive social impact by improving livelihoods of farmers in the country.
He said: “We are very pleased with the progress of the fund and for the past two facilities, we had a very strong impact in terms of 40 000 households with improved livelihood where 2 000 jobs were created and a variety of a niche of products from horticultural exports to tea through to brick making were developed.
At the moment, we are coming towards the end of the first round so success is difficult to assess now but we have a whole variety of things. We have very limited round this time but we are hoping for innovative and interested ideas by December 2019,” he said.
In her remarks, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) deputy resident representative-programmes Claire Medina said they hope to alleviate poverty by bringing in the private sector.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development director of irrigation services Geoffrey Mamba said the irrigation window of the Micf will be one of the key instruments to stimulate innovations and competitiveness in component two of the programme–developing agriculture and market linkages through the deployment of irrigation technologies, products and services,” he said.