THE Government has completed Isubilo Palm Oil Irrigation project in Luapula Province at the cost of K2 billion aimed at supporting 150 smallholder farmers.
Principal planner in charge of regional planning in the Ministry of Finance Charles Mweshi said the Government had invested the money to establish and develop Isubilo Palm Oil irrigation facilities in the region.
Mr Mweshi said in an interview that the purpose of the project was to provide irrigation to small holder farmers engaged in palm oil production.
He said about 150 small-scale-scale farmers engaged in Palm oil cultivation are expected to benefit from the irrigation facilities.
He explained that the project which started in 1998 was only completed this year saying that a reservoir had been constructed that would be able to store two million litres of water and supply it to 300 hectares of land.
"We have done a reservoir which is able to store two million litres of water and supply it to 300 hectares of land and about 150 small scale farmers are intended to benefit from this project and this project is like a learning point if it becomes successful it will be rolled out to other areas in the province," Mr Mweshi said.
He said the project was expected to be replicated in Kawambwa, Kazembe, Chienge and Nchelenge.
Mr Mweshi said the reason for replicating the project in the above areas was to ensure that smallholder farmers cultivating palm oil benefit from the irrigation facilities to be established by the Government.
He said the irrigation facilities would be handed over to the cooperatives after stakeholders are trained on how to manage the infrastructure adding that, the Ministry of Agriculture was expected to provide the inputs to the farmers.
Mr Mweshi said the irrigation facility would only be commissioned after the farmers are trained.
"There are a number of things that needs to be done. Part of the 300 hectares is not planted and the Ministry of Agriculture needs to provide the seedlings and we need to organise the farmers into cooperatives because we are targeting about150 small scale farmers," he said.