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Monday, October 14, 2013

Zambian govt suspends e-voucher system for farmers

Anthony Nwakaegho/NaijaAgroNet
The Zambian Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Bob Sichinga said that the Zambian Government has suspended the implementation of the e-voucher system that was supposed to be used for small-scale farmers in accessing subsidised inputs under the Farmer Inputs Support Programme (FISP) due to inadequate logistics, NaijaAgroNet reports.
Bob Sichinga said the e-voucher which is an electronic system was set to be piloted in 10 districts this year and needed proper preparations by the Government and private suppliers before being implemented.
NaijaAgroNet noted that the government announced last year that it would use the electronic system for distribution of part of the subsidised inputs under the FISP as a pilot programme to replace the current scheme which benefits 900,000 small-scale farmers.
Sichinga explained during the launch of the ZNFU Lima scheme in Kabwe that about 241,000 out of the 900,000 under the FISP were expected to be covered by the electronic system before rolling out the programme to the whole country as the e-voucher system requires that private agro business houses have electronic register of the 241,000 farmers as well as electronic voucher, while farmers needed to have either a phone or a computer.
The scheme according to Minister Agriculture and Livestock required the Ministry of Agriculture to create a redemption fund which would be recovered by the private suppliers once the farmers acquired the inputs in their respective districts.
 “I have a computer background and when I looked at what had been prepared, I was not satisfied that we had a register of the 241,000 farmers; I was not satisfied that each of the targeted districts had telephone communication to send messages. I was also not satisfied that there was sufficient capacity to reach all the 241,000 farmers and because of this, it was not possible to implement the e-voucher system because even the ministry did not even have computers,” Sichinga said.
He, however, assured that his ministry was keen to implement the electronic system once all the necessary logistics and training had been done for all stakeholders including the private suppliers.

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