Over 45,000 land parcels secured for Shire Valley farmers

“For many years’ my neighbour and I used to have a lot of disputes over land boundaries. We could encroach into each other’s farms to the extent that we could call the chief to address the problem. These disputes took years until the Ministry of Lands came to ascertain our boundaries and drew the maps of our pieces of land. This has brought closure to the confusion and secured our land forever,” said Makulata Benedicto of GVH Mbenderana, TA Kasisi in Chikwawa.

Benedicto (in white) during a land adjudication exercise in Chikwawa

Benedicto is a beneficiary of the land adjudication and demarcation process piloted by the SVTP through the Ministry of Lands since September 2020. This process will assist the SVTP to secure land for large-scale irrigation for smallholder farmers who will consolidate land into 14 commercial farms in the Phase 1 area of the project.  

Land adjudication and demarcation involve ascertaining land ownership and determining boundaries as stipulated in the newly assented Customary Land Act (2022). The Act provides the citizenry with land ownership and ensures the security of tenure for future generations.  

Chilonga: Government is not taking away land

Team Leader for the Land Reform Implementation Unit Davie Chilonga underscores the importance of citizen participation in the rollout of systematic land adjudication and demarcation throughout the country.  

“The Government is not trying to take away land from the citizens but to secure land for them considering the increase in population. Land adjudication and demarcation give people the power to own and develop land. They can also opt to lease or sub-lease the land without losing ownership. This process will help reduce land-related disputes as people will have documentation to prove ownership,” he said.

Mbenderana: This exercise is very important

Group Village Headman Mbenderana agrees that land adjudication and demarcation exercise has reduced boundary disputes in his area.

“This exercise is very important. Having the maps and documentation showing ownership will ease our work of addressing boundary disputes. We will be able to check the documentation and confirm the status on the ground to determine the rightful land owner. This exercise will not reduce our influence as chiefs but help us lead our people better. I want to urge my fellow chiefs to embrace this development,” he said.

Benedicto encourages people in the Shire Valley and throughout the country to participate in the systematic land adjudication and demarcation exercise when the time comes.

“It is important for people to register their land with the Ministry of Lands to secure tenure. This will give us full ownership of land and reduce the burden of cases on our chiefs,” added Benedicto.

The Ministry of Lands printed and displayed maps for 26 Group Village Heads (GVHs) and is preparing title plans and customary land certificates for the land parcels.  The Ministry issued a new moratorium barring land sales and the issuing of new leases in the project area. The Ministry also provided clearance on land consolidation registration.

The Shire Valley Transformation Programme is championing land tenure security activities in the Shire Valley districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje to secure land for smallholder farmers who are beneficiaries of the much-anticipated 133km-long irrigation scheme. 

45,833 land parcels covering 22,299 hectares have been adjudicated and demarcated in Chikwawa belonging to 48,175 landowners (24,628 women and 22,547 men).