Chief irrigation engineer at Karonga Agricultural Development Division (ADD) John Bvutula has said Lufilya scheme, situated in Traditional Authority (T/A) Kilupula, requires about K500 million to be revamped.
This follows an outcry from farmers who say it has stayed long without rehabilitation since its establishment in 1973.
But Bvutula blamed the farmers for their lack of cooperation, saying that has contributed to the scheme’s condition.
“The farmers did not follow stipulated laws on how to manage the scheme. Now it requires huge amount of money to rehabilitate it,” he said.
Bvutula further said the farmers disregarded their constitution and allowed people from Tanzania to grow rice at the scheme, a development that contributed to the damage.
However, the farmers raised K2.9 million and hired an excavator from Zhejiang Communications Construction Company Limited to dredge sand from the canal, but it was an effort too little. They have since asked government and well-wishers to help rehabilitate the scheme.
The scheme’s chairperson Justine Mulaila said farmers cannot do the rehabilitation work alone as it requires a lot of money.
He said the main one-kilometre canal from the intake to the scheme was filled with sand.
“Lufilya is a big scheme with 1000 acres and produces first class kilombelo rice but it is abandoned and risks closure if farmers do not do maintenance works,” said Mulaila. Meanwhile, International Committee for the Development of People with support from GIZ is implementing Kulima MIERA project to promote sustainable rice value chain development in the district.