APM Launches Bwanje Dam Construction:EU To Bankroll The Project Aimed To Boost The Agriculture Sector
I am delighted to be here to launch the construction of the Bwanje Dam. This dam is part of our great vision for this country.
Our vision is to make Malawi a predominantly producing and exporting country. We want to stop being a predominantly importing and consuming country.
For us to turn Malawi into a producing and exporting country, we need to develop our agriculture sector. Therefore, our goal is to increase productivity and value addition. By increasing productivity and value addition industries, we create more and more jobs for our people.
But the problem has been our water management and irrigation system. For us to develop our agricultural sector, we need to develop our irrigation.
The country’s agriculture is mostly rain-fed. Therefore, our agriculture is vulnerable to climate change. When rain fails, our crops fail. This is the situation my Government wants to change.
When I came into Government, I found two major problems that hindered irrigation. First, we had an outdated policy on national irrigation. Secondly, irrigation demands a lot of power. Unfortunately, this country did not invest enough in power generation for many years.
We now have a National Irrigation Policy to guide our actions better than ever. And we are expanding and diversifying power generation for us to pump huge amounts of water for long distances.
Government priorities irrigation development as a critical strategy for improving agricultural productivity. This is for both subsistence and commercial purposes.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The construction of Bwanje dam is part of the fulfillment of a broader irrigation strategy. The Dam will supply water to an existing 800-hectare irrigation scheme.
This scheme was established in 1999 and my Government appreciates the support of the Government of Japan for the development of the scheme.
This is the largest smallholder irrigation scheme in the country.
This scheme has over the years changed many lives. With this dam, this scheme will increase productivity and change more lives.
The Dam whose construction we are launching today will ensure adequate water supply throughout the year. Currently, this is not the case, as only about a quarter of the scheme is irrigated during the dry season due to low flows.
I am aware that there is potential to extend the Dam in Phase 2. In doing so, we can cover an additional 1,500 hectares. We can also supply more potable water to more homes. I look forward to the extension of the dam as soon as we can.
Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to thank the Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Water Development, Dedza District Council and Bwanje Water Users Association for organizing the function.
Let me also thank the European Union for financing the design and construction of the Dam, that has been long overdue.
I now declare the construction of Bwanje Dam officially launched.
I thank you all for your attention.