Nsanje District council nods to the SVTP

Nsanje District council has given the nod to the multi-billion Kwacha project, Shire Valley Transformation Programme (SVTP), which will cover 43,370 hectares of land in the Shire Valley districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje. Of this hectarage, 4000 hectares (covering 6 kilometres of the projected 118 kilometres) will be in the Nsanje district, benefiting 8000 farmers.

“We appreciate that the government gives us projects to uplift our lives. However, we need to ensure that many people in the district benefit from irrigation initiatives including this massive project,” said Senior Chief Chimombo of Nsanje during a Council meeting at the Nsanje District Council.  

Senior Chief Chimombo during the presentation

Senior Chief Chimombo was reacting to the presentation on the SVTP during a Full Council meeting to seek approval for implementing the Programme in the district. There are sentiments from different quarters that the Programme should consider extending its coverage in the district as most of the hectarage will be Chikwawa.   

He noted that the canal covers a lot of hectarage in Chikwawa district compared to Nsanje. He appealed to the government to construct additional irrigation schemes.

“We have noted that the Scheme will cover less hectarage in Nsanje compared to Chikwawa. I would like to urge the government to consider constructing other irrigation schemes across the district to bridge this gap,” he added.  

Clarifying the concerns that the project will cover lesser hectarage, SVTP Project Coordinator Dr Stanley Khaila said the Scheme will serve 4,000 hectares benefitting over 8,000 farmers.  

He assured the Council that the Programme will implement different initiatives which the district will benefit from, including the development of the District Physical Development Plan, interventions to promote land tenure security for landowners in the district and other natural resources conservation interventions in Matandwe Forests Reserve, Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve and the Elephant Marsh.

Dr Khaila: 8000 people will benefit from the SVTP in Nsanje

Responding to pleas from legislators during a monitoring visit by the Parliamentary Committee for Budget and Finance in Chikwawa, Principal Secretary responsible for Irrigation in the Ministry of Agriculture Engineer Geoffrey Mamba said government acknowledges that there are limitations in the coverage of the Shire Valley Scheme but reiterated the government’s commitment to promoting irrigation farming in the district.

“In terms of design, we are taking gravity-fed water from Kapichira at a higher level and this water has a particular amount of energy which will reduce to almost zero as we reach Bangula. Hence we may not be able to extend the scheme beyond Bangula unless we have enough water at Bangula and pumps to pump water beyond Bangula,” he said.

Engineer Mamba highlighted the plans to construct more irrigation schemes in the district in the Irrigation Master Plan and Investment Framework. He cited an example of the planned construction of the 800 hectares irrigation scheme at Chididi.