Small scale farmers under the 500-hectare Mtengula Irrigation Scheme in Neno have been provided with Solar Irrigation Pumps by the Malawian government to help them produce enough food throughout the year thus ensuring food security in their households.
According to Neno District Agriculture Officer Duncan Magwira, “The introduction of the solar irrigation pumps will give farmers near Shire River an opportunity to do irrigation farming throughout the year”. Irrigation engineer Osward Mvula who designed the scheme with others said farmers around Shire River will benefit a lot from the irrigation scheme which is about 500 hectares.
“The good thing about this irrigation scheme is that the pumps are solar powered which means farmers can use the pumps whenever they want and will use less energy to pump the water to the field unlike the manual treadle pumps they were using before,” Mvula said.
Speaking on behalf of the farmers, Philmon Phiri said their lives will change for the better because farming will be easy and the irrigation scheme will help generate income from selling their crops all year round. “As farmers, we are very happy with the project. Neno district receives poor rains each year but with the coming in of the solar pumps, we have high hopes for bumper yields.”
The Malawi Government is embarking on full scale and institutionalised irrigation agriculture through the Green Belt Initiative. Under the initiative, government intends to make use of the country’s vast swathes of water for both commercial and subsistence irrigated farming.
Malawi’s agriculture is predominantly rain-fed and therefore suffers when rains fail yet the country has lakes and rivers which have water throughout the year.