Ministry to Support 200 Commercial Farmers in Irrigation Farming

The Ministry of Agriculture through it's Mega Farm Unit says it will support 200 commercial farmers in the country to enable them venture into large-scale irrigation farming starting from June this year.

Confirming the development on Tuesday, Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale said farmers with an average of 20 hectares or more will qualify for the initiative which is aimed at eradicating hunger in the country.

Kawale said more farmers will be targeted by the Mega Farm Unit depending on what they require to venture into in large scale irrigation farming.

Said Kawale: "The Ministry of Agriculture will support around 200 farmers who have an average of 20 hectares to go into irrigation farming; each farmer will have own costs depending on the type of irrigation investment they are applying for. They will not get similar amounts."

The minister stressed that the 200 farmers will not be the only ones supported saying thousands of commercial farmers will be engaged to assist in the production of food.

Said Kawale: "Each farmer will get a different amount depending on the investment needed. it is not a one-size-fits-all investment".

One of the commercial farmers, Albert Nyirongo of Madede in Mzimba, hailed the initiative as a game-changer. He is expected to get a solar powered water pump, tanks, pipes and have a bore hole drilled at his farm at the cost of K80 million.

Said Nyirongo: "The program of mega farms the ministry of agriculture is implementing is very useful because we will be getting fertilizer, seed and irrigation equipment so this is a welcome development as you know most farmers are willing to venture into irrigation farming but fail to buy equipment. So, I commend the ministry and the Mega Farm Unit for this."

Nyirongo urged the Mega Farms Unit to cascade the initiative to other farmers, saying it is key in ending hunger in the country.

However, Nyirongo says the Mega Farms Unit should enhance its communication strategy to ensure that only bonafide farmers are benefiting from the initiative to end reliance on rain fed agriculture in the wake of climate change.

Said Nyirongo: "The main problem is that there is a gap in information flow between the Mega Farms Unit, the commercial farmers and even medium farmers leading to others who are not real farmers benefiting from the program; so I wish the unit was going through the Farmers Union of Malawi in identifying and disseminating information about the initiative."

President Lazarus Chakwera is emphasizing on irrigation farming as key for the country to stop relying on rain-fed agriculture in the wake of climate change.

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