The overall Goal of the project is to increase agricultural productivity and incomes of approximately poor rural households in Mzimba North and (ii) to strengthen recipient institutional capacity for long-term irrigation development.
Agriculture remains the main source of growth and exports in Malawi. With 85 percent of the population residing in the rural areas, the sector accounts for over 80 percent of the country‘s employment, over one-third of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and about 80 percent of merchandise exports. The primary staple for most of these households is maize. Over 70 percent of all farmers in the country cultivate less than one hectare (ha) and a significant number of these farmers still struggle to produce enough food to meet their annual consumption requirements. Agriculture remains dominantly rain fed and dependent on one short and variable annual rainy season. The country continues to experience severe dry spells with the emergency of climate change, rendering a significant number of households perpetually food insecure.
The largest and most costly investment program in the agriculture sector is the FISP which is designed to attain food security and is targeted towards the poorer households. The FISP has been successful in many ways, but is also relatively costly and dependent on both imports and favorable weather conditions, while rates of malnutrition and especially stunting levels among children, remain high. In areas where production has been good, poor roads have often prevented the marketing of surpluses.
High population density and poverty have led to significant human pressure on the environment and degradation of Malawi‟s natural resource base, notably land and forests. The growing population increases the land area under cultivation and exploits forests and woodlands for firewood and charcoal production. The resulting deforestation, run-off, flash floods, soil erosion and sedimentation, are serious threats to the environment and natural resource base. These problems are a direct result of unsustainable land use and management practices, and insufficient soil and water conservation measures.
The project Goal is achieved through provision of an integrated package of support covering irrigation, agricultural/irrigation advisory services, marketing and post-harvest support; and (ii) strengthen recipient institutional capacity for long-term irrigation development.
This far, two communities have benefited from this programme;
Zigodo Irrigation Group in Enukweni and Chigomezgo Irrigation Group in Mawuyanazo Zgambo Village benefiting a total of 124 households and reaching out to 786 family members.