Chauluka Irrigation Scheme has been closed for three years from 2010 until 2013 due to conflicts between Agricultural Development Officials and the Scheme Committee,
a saga that prompted the Ministry of Agriculture to close down the scheme which is located in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Njolomole in Ntcheu district.
The scheme was opened in 1994 and before it was closed down, a total of 1000 people were directly benefiting from the scheme. The scheme also contributed to the social economic development of Malawi, a land locked country that has an agrarian economy.
Thus, the shut-down exposed a lot of people to extreme poverty and acute hunger. The closure left them stranded since they had no any other activity that could help them earn income or food.
Three years down the line, the ministry has reversed its decision as the scheme has now been reopened to the gratitude of all people in the area.
Thanks to Kettie Saulosi, YONECO’s Community Based Educated for engaging and persuading the Ministry of Agriculture to re-open the 50 hectares scheme. According to her messianic line of reasoning, there was need for the two opposing sides to bury the hatchet and let reopening of the place help widows, PLWHAs and people with physical challenges.
So far 112 people are benefiting from the revived scheme and Agricultural Extension Officers are encouraging farmers in the scheme to follow modern farming methods so that they should have bumper yields.
Although the farmers are celebrating the resumption of farming activities on scheme, there are also some challenges such as the exorbitant prices of farm inputs like fertilizer, seeds and pest sides. Due to this, they are unable to cultivate the whole 50 hectares of the scheme. Another challenge is that the scheme has no any water reservoir.
In a similar vein, the scheme has no modern irrigation machinery such as sprinklers and water pumps. Further to this, farmers do not have a readily available market for their produce.
YONECO’s Ntcheu District Officers encouraged the farmers to identify reliable markets in advance so that their farm produce should be bought at reasonable prices.
So far, YONECO has linked them to OIBM so that the famers can easily access Agricultural loans to boost their business. The famers were also oriented about the importance of adding value to their produce to attract more customers.
YONECO’s CBE who has been instrumental for the reopening of the scheme is providing leadership and support to the scheme committee.
Farmers are asking the Minister of Agriculture and some Agriculture Officials in the Ministry to visit them so that they should appreciate the good work which they are doing and the role which YONECO is playing in their communities.
So far YONECO has a lot of CBEs and over 2000 well trained volunteers who operate in a number of areas in Malawi.