The World Bank has approved a US$166 million (about K122 billion) loan to Malawi aimed at transforming the country’s irrigation agriculture, especially in the Shire Valley.
The Shire Valley Transformation Programme (SVTP-I), which will cover the Chikwawa-Nsanje areas, will lay foundations for commercialisation and improve management of natural resources in the Shire Valley districts.
The financing, US$6.6 million of which is a grant from the Global Environment Facility Trust Fund, was approved by the bank’s board of executive directors in Washington on Thursday, with the remaining US$160 million being a credit from the bank’s International Development Association (IDA).
According to a statement from the bank, the whole programme is scheduled to have three phases over a 14-year period; stretching from 2017 to 2031.
Reads the statement in part: “Through this period, the programme will provide irrigation to over 40 000 hectares… The programme will boost agricultural production, provide drinking water services, improve sustainable management of natural resources, including wetlands and protected areas, while enhancing tourism potential.”
Government has since welcomed the programme, with Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha saying the rewards of the programme will be transformational for the country’s agriculture.based economy.
He said the programme, which will also support diversification to crops other than sugarcane which the Shire Valley is well known for, is expected to create more opportunities for agro-processing enterprises and traders.
SVTP-I will mainly deliver well-constructed, professionally managed and financially sustainable irrigation services, and support services in agriculture, aquaculture and livestock production.
“The beauty of the whole programme is that it will engage smallholder farmers to modernise and commercialise agriculture. We ultimately anticipate a half billion-dollar benefit to the economy,” Mwanamvekha said.
“The Bank estimates a radical improvement in income levels of beneficiary households by overcoming the main challenges of droughts and floods in the Shire Valley region. We trust that through this project, Malawi’s agriculture will go beyond the food security agenda to commercial agricultural investments that will sustainably pull people out of poverty,” said Valens Mwumvaneza, World Bank acting country manager for Malawi.
The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programmes that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa.