Multi-million Kwacha 42, 000 hactares Shire Valley Irrigation Project kick-starts

Blantyre, April 24, 2016: Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development with financial assistance from the World Bank and African Development Bank has started carrying out project preparation activities for Shire Valley Irrigation Project (SVIP) under the framework of the Green Belt Initiative.

The aim of the project is to develop 42,500 hectares of land for irrigation in Chikwawa and Nsanje districts and it is the first ever huge irrigation project happening in Southern Africa according to the officials of the project.

Briefing journalists on the progress of the project in Chikwawa district on Friday, Dr Stanly Khaila who is Community Development Specialist said approximately the first phase of the project will cost 340 million United States (US) Dollars and shall cover 21,000 hectares of land.

Dr Khaila said, “Of the said amount, 260 million US dollars has already been pledged and the project is receiving overwhelming support from both in and outside Malawi.

“It is expected that the whole project both phase one and two will cost 600,000 million US dollars but the actual figure will be known when the feasibility study is completed.”

Dr Khaila further said World Bank has pledged to support the project with 160 million US

dollars, while African Development Bank (AFDB) will bankroll over 40 million US dollars.

“Malawi government has already paid 70 thousand Euros in preparation for the project and by December 2016 the feasibility study will be completed.

“This is a gravity fed irrigation project and the water will be channeled from Kapichira dam here in Chikwawa district,” he added.

According to Dr Khaila, by mid 2018, construction for the Canal of project will be starting and it is likely that the whole work could be completed within five years.

Project Technical Team Coordinator for the project, Dr Rodrick Champiti said SVIP is a game changing project as Shire valley is expected to become an export processing Zone.

Dr Champiti said the project will improve people’s livelihoods as many commodities are expected to be part of the production regime like food crops, cash crops, fish, livestock, fruits and vegetables.

Meanwhile Dr Champiti said people who will lose land in the path of the main canal will be resettled and compensated and has since urged people to hold on to their land in order to benefit.

“The study currently underway is looking at many areas like identification of the crops which are suited for high yielding production technique within SVIP localities with respect to local soil and climatic conditions.

“It is also looking at market opportunities domestically and internationally since we are establishing market linked smallholder farming ventures,” he said.

Dr Champiti said the whole project will enhance income and food security to about 100,000 families in Chikwawa and Nsanje districts.

He further said the project has national impact as it marks a way of getting out of food insecurity in Malawi.

SOURCE: Malawi News Agency