Visually impaired Farmers in Chikhwawa district can now afford a smile as Malawi council for the handicapped (MACOHA) has constructed a K10.1 million Irrigation System at Ndakwera Resettlement Scheme.
Supported by Standard Bank of Malawi and the Norwegian Church Aid (NAD), the development comes as a relief to visually impaired farmers considering that it will help them grow various crops for commercial and subsistence use.
Speaking during the Project tour recently, MACOHA Executive Director Peter Ngomwa said he was very happy to see the irrigation system functioning and urged the farmers to effectively make use of the irrigation system by producing crops throughout the year.
He also emphasized on coordination amongst farmers in order for the scheme to be a success and for the benefit of the entire community.
"This is a great development which will help increase their yield, help them realize more income after selling the extra produce thereby improving their livelihood. Farmers need to work together in unity to ensure that the project is properly maintained and sustained," he said.
Ngomwa also expressed gratitude to various stakeholders for extending a helping hand during the project and their concern for the welfare of persons with disabilities. He further appealed to the corporate society to emulate the Norwegian Church Aid and Standard Bank.
"NAD provided solar panels, a 1.6 KVA0 invertor, 24 volts batteries and constructed a 2,500 litres water tank and Standard Bank Malawi who donated 6.3 million kwacha. In addition to the funds, proceedings from the flag week were also directed to the project.
"However, despite the irrigation system being completed, there is need for more funds to construct secondary water canals as farmers have improvised with polythene papers for the time being," he said.
One of the beneficiaries at the scheme Eliya Jafilisi thanked MACOHA for effectively facilitating the project.
"We are very excited for this development, this will benefit us a lot, many thanks to MACOHA for always being there for us. This irrigation system will make farming easy for us", Said Eliya Jafilisi, one of the farmers at the scheme.
The irrigation system is a product of the 2017 flag week which is an awareness week conducted annually by MACOHA on issues dealing with persons with disabilities and MACOHA as a whole.
According to Rehabilitation Officer at MACOHA Elvis Katete, who also chaired the flag week committee, in 2015, there was a complaint from the visually impaired farmers at Ndakwera Resettlement Scheme that they do not yield enough crops every year because of high temperatures in Chikhwawa, making rain fed crop production difficult.
The farmers then requested for solar pump to pump water to the water ways which supply water to the field.
Katete further said that the 2017 flag week was held under the theme 'Agriculture; Transformative empowerment for sustainable livelihoods for persons with disabilities' to satisfy Ndakwera farmers need.
Ndakwera Resettlement Scheme is one of the three resettlement schemes under MACOHA, catering for persons with disabilities. The other two schemes are Chinguluwe in Salima and Rivirivi in Balaka.