According to a statement from the bank the financing approved on Wednesday by the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors is for the first phase of the Shire Valley Transformation Program (SVTP-I).
It consists of a $160 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) and a $5.59 Million grant from the Global Environment Facility Trust Fund.
The whole program which is scheduled to have three phases over a 14 year period from 2017- 2031 will cover the Chikwawa and Nsanje areas of the Shire Valley.
Throughout this period the program will provide irrigation to over 40,000 hectares by gravity water delivery and eliminate the need for electricity for pumping water from the Shire River.
It is expected to boost agricultural production through the provision of drinking water services, improve sustainable management of natural resources including wetlands and protected areas, whilst enhancing Malawi’s tourism potential.
Through the SVTP-I initiative farmers will be helped to secure land and water tenure and develop commercial farming.
Its focus will be on delivering well-constructed, professionally managed and financially sustainable irrigation services with support services in agriculture, aquaculture and livestock production.
Furthermore the programme will support cropdiversification besides sugarcane which the Shire Valley is renowned for and is expected to create more opportunities for agro-processing enterprises and traders.
The statementquotes the Bank’s Acting Country Manager for MalawiValens Mwumvaneza that the country’s agriculture sector is headed for transformation.
“We trust that through this project, Malawi’s agriculture will go beyond the food security agenda to commercial agricultural investments that will sustainably pull people out of poverty,” said Valens Mwumvaneza the Bank’s Acting Country Manager for Malawi.
The Bank estimates a radical improvement in income levels of beneficiary households by overcoming the main challenges of droughts and floods in the Shire Valley region.
Implementation of the project will be led by the Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Water Development with other partners and agencies.
The SVTP-I is scheduled to close in 2023.