SPATE IRRIGATION IN MALAWI: STATUS, POTENTIAL AND CHALLENGES.
Spate irrigation also referred as water spreading or floodwater harvesting has been widely practised in many parts of the world including eastern parts of Africa. However its application in Malawi has never been documented which suggests that it’s a relatively new practise. While there are a number of areas in Malawi utilising flood water for crop production, the methods used do not follow any detailed design s and are not a result of deliberate efforts to harness and later utilise the flood water. Consequently it has not been possible for these farmers to get the full benefits of the practise. There are several parts of the country with the characteristics that make them ideal for spate irrigation. While there are efforts to pilot the practise in Central and Southern parts of the country, there are number of challenges that need to be overcome before the practise can be fully mainstreamed in the current agriculture systems. This paper looks at the Malawi as a country and the potential it has for the practise of Spate Irrigation. Since there has been limited application of the practise, the paper also looks at what are some of the current challenges towards the scaling up of the practise.