Programme for Rural Irrigation Development (Pride), a project jointly funded by International Fund for Agriculture development (Ifad) and Malawi government, says it is ready to commence construction works of irrigation schemes across the country.
Speaking in an interview yesterday, Pride Knowledge Management and Communications Specialist, Felix Malamula said construction will start with four schemes.
“Four schemes namely Matoponi and Mlooka in Zomba, Lingoni in Machinga and Nkhulambe in Phalombe are at tendering stage right now. We expect to do evaluation of bids and get a contractor by end March. Actually, just three weeks ago, we had a pre-bid meeting in Blantyre with potential contractors,” said Malamula.
The $80.4million (about K62 billion) Pride project, which is working in 12 districts in the country, plans to construct 16 irrigation schemes by end 2023.
Malamula said processes leading to identification of contractors and actual construction works, are at different levels.
He added that a set of five schemes – Marko and Mafinga Hills in Chitipa, Mzenga in Nkhata Bay, Chipofya at Bolero in Rumphi and Dwambazi in Nkhotakota are at design stage and expected to go into
tendering once designs are completed.
“Our target is to start construction of these schemes in September or latest October this year. With a construction period of one year, we expect to commission these schemes by October of 2022”.
Overall, Malamula explained that the program’s goal is to reduce smallholder farmers’ vulnerability to food insecurity, climate change effects and to the vagaries of the market.
The program’s objective, according to Malamula, is to organize and empower smallholder farmers so that they sustainably enhance their production levels to such a degree that they can provide for their
household nutritional demands and deliver produce to viable markets.
Speaking separately, district irrigation officer for Karonga Silence Chirambo explained that under the program’s irrigation window, eligible private sector companies compete for funding on the basis of
submitted business cases, adding that Pride funding for the irrigation window is being done under the Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund (MICF).
Chirambo also said Pride is piloting the introduction of in-field irrigation equipment, such as drip irrigation and sprinklers in the country.
Pride is a seven year irrigation development programme aimed at developing 5400 hectares of irrigated land and 12,300 hectares of rain-fed land to benefit 19,500 households translating to about a million individual beneficiaries.