Project engineer for Irrigation Rural livelihood and Agricultural Development (Irlad), Crosby Mphande has expressed concern over the wanton cutting down of trees along Lufira River in Chitipa District that has caused siltation downstream.
Mphande said that this is affecting irrigation farmers in Karonga District who depend on water from the river.
He was speaking during the handing over ceremony of Lufira Irrigation Scheme to farmers from Traditional Authority (T/A) Kilupula.
Mphande asked authorities in Chitipa and Karonga districts to coordinate to address the problem.
‘‘The problem of siltation, which is taking place in Lufira River, is greatly affecting irrigation farmers in Karonga District as some farmers are [yielding] small quantities of rice and maize due to inadequate water.’’
‘‘People down the stream are feeling the effects of environmental degradation, yet the main cause is up the stream in Chitipa; hence, there is need for both districts to sit down and see how best to address this problem. Let both of them understand the need of conserving the environment so that no party is affected,’’ said Mphande.
He added: ‘‘Let the authorities involve farmers because, to a large extent, they are among people who are contributing a lot to the degradation because of wanton cutting down of trees and cultivation along the river banks.’’
According to Mphande, Irlad is phasing out after it helped farmers with trainings on how to manage irrigation schemes for six years, with assistance from the World Bank.
Farmers from Lufilya, Wovwe and Hara schemes will start managing the schemes on their own.n