Nsanje opts for solar power irrigation

Nsanje, Nsanje District Irrigation Officer, Movete Mkandawire, says the problem of drought which the district has been facing over the years can be alleviated by adopting solar powered irrigation farming.

Speaking in an interview recently, Mkandawire said the use of shallow wells and treadle pumps for irrigation had yielded low results as compared to what solar powered irrigation schemes are experiencing.

He cited the example of the K200 million Chinolo Solar Powered Irrigation Scheme in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Mlolo which was constructed under the six year Enhancing Community Resilience Project (ECRP) and carters for over 212 farmers.

Chinolo irrigation Scheme started in 2014 with only five farmers. These farmers were previously using labour intensive shallow wells and treadle pumps to irrigate their crops. However, upon the coming in of ECRP to institute a solar powered irrigation scheme, over 200 small farmers started their irrigation activities on the 28 hectares of land, said Mkandawire.

Yohane Kubalalika, a smallholder farmer benefiting from the solar powered irrigation scheme supported by the ECRP said he and other farmers are now producing enough for food and sale as the solar powered irrigation system covers more land than labour intensive irrigation systems.

On his part, ECRP District Coordinator, William Nyirenda, said solar powered irrigation has proved to be beneficial and effective to the smallholder farmers in Nsanje District as other means of irrigation such as treadle pumps have been hard to use but also achieved low production.

With solar powered irrigation, farmers are able to irrigate their crops without hurdles as compared to other means. From the experience, smallholder farmers are really producing more for food and income which is the project’s goal, said Nyirenda.

ECRP is a project under a consortium led by Christian Aid Malawi. The project is being funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) among other donors.

Source: Malawi News Agency � MANA