Expansion of irrigation is a recurrent objective of the agricultural development plans formulated by successive governments in Malawi. More intensive and continual use of Malawi’s water and agricultural land resources is expected to increase and stabilize production of food and export crops, thereby increasing farm incomes, spurring growth in the agricultural sector, and enabling the country to more reliably meet the increasing food needs of its growing population. In addition, irrigation should allow for a more diverse set of crops to be grown throughout the year, with significant expansion desired particularly in the production of micronutrient-rich vegetables and fruit. With increasing use of irrigation across the country, Malawians will gain greater access to more food and a more diverse range of foods. The nutritional status of young children and other vulnerable groups should improve as a result. Conceptually, this nutritional argument to build support for expanding investments in irrigation in Malawi seems reasonable; however, there is little empirical evidence from Malawi or elsewhere to confirm whether irrigation improves nutritional status.
Benson, Todd. 2015. Associations between irrigated farming and improved nutrition in Malawian farm households. In Mapping the linkages between agriculture, food security and nutrition in Malawi. Chapter 6. Pp. 50-55. Lilongwe, Malawi; and Washington, D.C.: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). http://ebrary.ifpri.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15738coll2/id/129903