Chakwera impressed with progress of Shire Valley Transformation Programme

Chakwera and the First Lady viewing where the intake is to be rebuilt

* Illovo Sugar Malawi also impresses the President in its planned investment to tap water from the canal

* Through use of canal, Illovo Sugar is set to save on costs of power from ESCOM’s grid

* The surplus power on ESCOM grid would be fully utilized for rest of Lower Shire communities

* Over 48,400 households to benefit from the largest irrigation canal project in the Southern Africa

By Victor Singano Jnr, Correspondent

After his visit, President Lazarus Chakwera said he was impressed with progress of Shire Valley Transformation Programme and further applauded Illovo Sugar Malawi Plc’s involvement in this largest irrigation canal project in the Southern Africa.


Chakwera was appraised of the progress made so far after the devastation caused by Cyclone Ana that bleached construction of the project’s intake that has to be rebuild and enforced to withstand future forces of nature.

He later told the media that the project is set to change economic lives of people of the Lower Shire — and indeed of the whole country — since the programme is set to establish mega farms as well as benefit over 48,400 smallholder farming households in Chikwawa and Nsanje districts.

“My Government would make sure that this project’s progress runs smoothly,” he said. “It is unfortunate that Cyclone Ana affected its construction but the management of the programme rose above everything to pick themselves up.”

After appreciating progress of the irrigation canal, Chakwera also visited the neighboring Kapichira Hydro Power Station, whose dam will provide water to the Shire Valley Programme’s intake.

Chakwera set a deadline of December that Kapichira should start generating its 130 megawatts of power it lost due to Cyclone Ana and was assured by Energy Generation Company (EGENCO) that they would meet the deadline.

So far, there is progress in restoring Kapichira Dam. The generation plant was not affected but once the dam is rebuilt, the plant would immediately start generating all 130MW.


After visiting Kapichira, Chakwera was appraised of investment plans that Illovo Sugar Malawi has prepared that include using drip irrigation as opposed to the current sprinkler process that needs lots of electricity power.

Managing Director, Lekani Katandula appraised the President that through the use of the canal, Illovo Sugar is set to save on costs of power from ESCOM’s grid, saying the surplus power on ESCOM grid would be fully utilized for rest of the Lower Shire communities.

Chakwera seemed immensely impressed with the investment plans by Illovo Sugar Malawi, whose participation would also help sustain the irrigation programme for years to come.

He applauded Illovo’s investment into the programme, which he appealed to other investors to emulate in establishing mega farms.

In his remarks, project coordinator for Shire Valley Transformation Programme, Stanley Chakhumbira Khaila said the project — whose works commenced in 2018 — will help to alleviate hunger in the area and Malawi at large.

Chakwera also met representatives of farmers cooperatives

It will also create large scale farming which at the end make Malawi to be competitive in the world markets through various crops.

Khaila further said the project was supposed to be completed in 2022 but it has been pushed to 2023 since works were disturbed through Cyclone Ana which forced engineers to stop working.

“The main aim of this project is to increase  agricultural productivity and commercialization for targeted households in the Shire Valley and improve sustainable management and utilization of natural resources.

“Let me emphasize that the canal will cover a distance of 181 kilometres which will be from Kapichira to Bangula in Nsanje.

“With this distance, we are hopeful that all smallholder famers will benefit a lot since they will be able to practise farming throughout the year — hence creating opportunity of exporting products outside Malawi which in the end will also help in bringing forex in the country.”

Khaila added that the project is, among others, in line with the MW2063 as it will assist to improve the economic status of the country since smallholder farmers will consolidate land into large farms between 500-1,600 hectares each.

The programme is being implemented by the Government of Malawi through the Department of Irrigation in the Ministry of Agriculture with support from World Bank, the African Development Bank, the OPEC Fund for International Development, Nigerian Trust Fund and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Meanwhile, EGENCO and Shire Valley Transformation Programme (SVTP) joined hands to restore power at Kapichira Hydro Station in Chikwawa in a collaboration since both entities share common interest on Kapichira dam


During the January tropical storm, Kapichira Dam’s fuse plug (an emergency spillway) was damaged and the Shire River changed to its original course away from the hydropower’s intake.

To restore the 130 megawatts lost at Kapichira, SVTP is building a cofferdam which will serve two purposes, which — on one hand — the coffer dam will allow EGENCO to fill the reservoir and resume generation of power.

On the other, it will allow SVTP to reconstruct the intake which was washed away by the tropical storm.  EGENCO on the other hand is doing repairs on the gates at the emergency spill way and the dam embankment.

A joint Parliamentary Committee also visited Kapichira to assess impact of the damage caused by Cyclone Ana as well as progress of restoration of the lost 130MW of power that has led to continued load shedding that last up to 10 hours a day with some parts of the country having no electricity at all.

The Committee was also assured by EGENCO management of their efforts to restore Kapichira Dam and were taken on tour of works being done of drenching the sand that the floods gathered so that they could divert flow of water to the intake to start the process of building a cofferdam.—Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express