State President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera says the 800-hectare Bwanje Valley Irrigation Scheme in Dedza district is an agronomic revolution that will transform the face of commercial farming in the country.
Speaking after he inspected the scheme on Tuesday, the President expressed contentment at how local farmers are utilizing the scheme for double cropping.
“The scheme is a catalyst of an irrigation revolution that is already creating a thriving commercial farming value chain,” said he.
He pledged his government’s support to the project to make it more viable for communities around the area and surrounding districts.
“To further its usefulness, my administration will increase capacity of the dam and expand the land coverage to 2290 hectares thereby benefiting more farmers than is the case now.”
Bwanje Irrigation Scheme has 2000 hectares of potentially irrigable land, meaning even the impending expansion will still leave some more unused land.
Currently, it has 2,067 beneficiaries (978 males and 1089 females) who grow rice, maize, soya beans, sweet potatoes, beans, cow peas, tomato, okra and leafy vegetables.
The President called upon farmers at and around the scheme to affiliate themselves with cooperatives and farm clubs where they can learn modern ways of farming and benefit from good markets for their crop.
Experts from Ministry of Agriculture say the expansion of the dam with also have other secondary benefits such as providing potable water to households and generation of off-grid power for surrounding communities.
Bwanje Irrigation Scheme was established in 1999 but has had erratic operations over the years due to lack of continued investment by previous governments.
The decision by the Chakwera administration to expand it has, therefore, come as a huge boost to farmers already using the scheme and hope to those who are yet to join.