GOVERNMENT has embarked on an irrigation project that will promote irrigation-based agriculture among 7,000 smallholder farmers.
Provincial agricultural co-ordinator Andrew Banda said the programme dubbed Technical Cooperation Project on Community Based Smallholder Irrigation (T-COBSI) will result in the upgrading of five weirs at a cost of about K300, 000 out of the 568 temporal weirs, which are mini-dams established in the province.
Mr Banda said eight weirs have so far been transformed into permanent structures.
“The programme will promote and increase irrigated land through the provision of irrigation infrastructure for smallholder farmers in target areas,” he said.
Mr Banda said in an interview in Kasama last week that the programme which is supported by Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) is being implemented in Mbala, Mungwi, Luwingu Kasama and Mporokoso.
The project started last year and is expected to end in 2016 and is being implemented in Muchinga and Luapula Provinces.
He said about 200 temporal weirs will be upgraded into permanent structures during the course of the project.
“We found it prudent that we start by establishing temporal weirs so that the beneficiaries could actively participate and appreciate the benefits of the project,” he said.
Mr Banda also said the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock is also undertaking the smallholder productivity promotion programme (S3P) aimed at increasing household income and food security in Northern and Luapula Provinces.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) funded programme which will benefit about 20,000 smallholder farmers in Northern Province aims at enhancing agriculture extension services that will assist farmers achieve agricultural productivity.
“We will intensify group visitation and we will help the farmers increase yields and enhance value addition… A total of 20,000 smallholder farmers are targeted within the province, each with a cropped area of approximately five hectares, organised in groups or cooperatives or those willing to join in such groupings,” he said.
The programme will promote the production of beans, cassava and groundnuts.