An irrigation expert has said over 40 percent of irrigation facilities in Nsanje get washed away and silted up when floods occur.
Nsanje disctrict senior irrigation engineer Edward Mkandawire said in an interview the situation is worrisome as it leaves many households food insecure.
“The district mostly has shallow-based irrigation facilities, most of which are situated along Elephant and Ndindi marshes. But the few gravity-fed irrigation schemes need to be taken care of for sustainability. What we need now is to construct flood protection bunds on those gravity-fed irrigation facilities like Masenjere which are prone to floods so that they are fully protected,” he said.
Mkandawire added that his department is promoting gravity-fed and solar-powered irrigation schemes for communities to achieve sustainable income and food security.
In her remarks, Nsanje North legislator Esther Mcheka Chilenje, who is also first Deputy Speaker of Parliament, noted that lack of flood protection bunds has been affecting crop production in most irrigation schemes, including Masenjere Irrigation Scheme in the area of Traditional Authority Mlolo which supports over 400 farming households.
“These flood protection bunds are very useful in the protection of flood wash aways. I will report the matter to relevant authorities to take appropriate action so that people’s lives improve,” she assured.
Irrigation farming has been touted by experts as the answer to the country’s food shortages, which often result from over dependence on rain-fed agriculture.
According to the district’s irrigation department, Nsanje has about 67 irrigation schemes. n