Irrigation Farming Transforms Lives in Zomba
Fifteen people are currently employed on Mponda's farm, where they grow a variety of crops, including tomatoes, Irish potatoes, bananas, maize, onions, and cabbage.
ZOMBA, Malawi — Irrigation farming has transformed the lives of residents in the village headman Namwela area of Zomba, thanks to the efforts of farmer David Mponda.
Fifteen people are currently employed on Mponda's farm, where they grow a variety of crops, including tomatoes, Irish potatoes, bananas, maize, onions, and cabbage, writes Bridget Banda.
One employee, Iana Kapu, said the job has allowed her to send her children to school and save money to invest in other businesses.
She thanked Mponda for the initiative, which she said is keeping young people in the area busy and preventing them from engaging in bad behavior.
"I am very happy to work here because I have learned a lot of skills and I am able to support my family," Kapu said.
"Before I joined this farm, I had no income and I was struggling to pay school fees for my children. But now I can afford to buy them books and uniforms. I also save some money in a village bank so that I can start my own business in the future."
Mponda said he embarked on the five-year irrigation farming project to transform and support the people in his area, not only by providing them with jobs but also by sharing his expertise so they can experiment on their own farms.
He also said he wants to demonstrate to people in Namwera that the water streams in the area can be used to improve their lives if utilized properly.
Mponda plans to expand his farm by six hectares and create more job opportunities.
He asked the Ministry of Agriculture to provide farmers with access to irrigation equipment and training on how to use organic fertilizer.
"I have a vision to make this place a model of irrigation farming in Malawi," Mponda said.
"I have seen how irrigation can increase productivity and income for farmers. I want to share this knowledge with my fellow farmers so that they can also benefit from it. I urge the government to support us with more irrigation equipment and training on how to use organic fertilizer which is cheaper and healthier than chemical fertilizer."
Village headman Namwela said Mponda has been a savior to his area, as many lives have changed since the irrigation project began.
He believes the initiative will help to prevent young people from moving to cities with nothing to do.
Namwela also emphasized the need for government support, such as providing additional treadle pumps so that more area can be covered and more people can be employed.
He also applauded Mponda for using manure on his farm, saying many small farmers in the area did not know about the benefits of using this organic fertilizer.
"He is a role model for us," Namwela said. "He has shown us how we can use our natural resources wisely and improve our livelihoods. He has also taught us how we can make our own fertilizer from animal waste and crop residues. This has reduced our expenses and improved our soil quality."
Meanwhile, the principal secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Medrina Mloza Banda, said the government has made provisions for a duty waiver on the importation of irrigation equipment to assist smallholder farmers in the country.
Banda also said the ministry is facilitating the clearance of imported equipment through the Department of Irrigation and encouraged farmers to work together with water user groups such as water user associations in the development of schemes.
She said that district councils are also being urged to use local resources to rehabilitate existing irrigation schemes in the country.
"We are committed to promoting irrigation farming as one of the strategies to achieve food security and economic growth," Banda said.
"We are aware of the challenges that farmers face such as lack of irrigation equipment, high cost of inputs, poor market access and climate change. We are working with various partners such as UNFPA1, World Bank2 and Agrilinks3 to address these challenges and support farmers like Mr Mponda who are making a difference in their communities."