Over 400 000 ha of irrigable land idle

Despite being ranked as an agro-based economy, experts have revealed that most of the country’s potential irrigable land still remains unexplored.

According to deputy director of irrigation Winston Sataya, over 400 000 hectares of land having a potential of being transformed into an irrigable land remains idle across the country.

Irrigation farming is under-utilised in Malawi

Speaking in Salima on Wednesday during a stakeholders workshop organised by the Shire Valley Transformation Project, Sataya said the development is disadvantaging the country’s economy.

He said when developed, such potential virgin lands have the possibility of transforming the country’s economy in no time.

“As you know Malawi seats on an agro based economy, hence seeing such a huge opportunity lying idle is a great loss to a country like Malawi,” said Sataya.

According to him, only 160 000 hectares of land is being utilised for irrigation across the country, which represents as little as 25 percent of the country’s total irrigation potential.

While commending the World Bank and the African Development Bank (ADB) for their continued support in Malawi’s irrigation sector, Sataya called for more investment in the sector across the country.

He said the Shire Valley Transformation Project, which is currently on an advanced stage is expected to transform the lower shire as it is expected to develop 43, 370 hectares of irrigation potential land.

Through the Shire Valley Transformation Project, over 50 000 farmer beneficiaries will have direct benefits from the project which will fully develop the area in phases until 2031.

In his remarks, World Bank’s senior agriculture economist, Time Fatchi said it is the banks objective to see the agriculture sector developing as it is the backbone of Malawi’s economy.

He further pledged for more support in the current project with similar potential of transforming people’s livelihoods.

Commenting on the Shire Valley Transformation Project Fatchi said the bank has put in place proper monitoring mechanisms to see to it that all resources being channeled in to the project are used for their intended purposes. n

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