Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale says government is targeting to increase the area under irrigation from 149 066 hectares (ha) to 220 000ha by 2035 to promote agricultural production.
Presenting a ministerial statement in Parliament on Tuesday, the minister said irrigation is key to promoting food security and economic development; hence, the commitment to invest in irrigation schemes.
Irrigation farming may reduce food shortages
Kawale said the ministry, with support from development partners, is implementing three flagship projects to increase area under irrigation, namely the Agriculture Infrastructure and Youth in Agribusiness (Ayap), Programme for Rural Irrigation Development (Pride) and the Shire Valley Transformation Programme (SVTP).
“When all the three flagship irrigation projects are completed, an addition of 45 000ha will be under irrigation,” he said.
Under Ayap, which will benefit 5 000 farmers, government is targeting to develop 1 000ha in Nkhata Bay to grow rice and other crops while Pride programme is developing irrigation schemes in Chitipa, Karonga, Zomba, Machinga, Nkhata Bay and Phalombe where about 4 119ha are expected to be developed.
The SVTP is developing 43 370ha in Chikwawa and Nsanje and will be used for growing various crops.
In response, Rumphi East legislator Kamlepo Kalua said there are a number of areas that have the potential to be used for irrigation, but government is not utilising them.