BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes
A TOTAL of 998,791 farmers as at February 4, had successfully deposited their contributions under the Electronic Voucher (e-voucher) system, says Smart Zambia director systems, Martine Mtonga.
Dr Mtonga explained that the figure represented 99.9 percent of the targeted 1,000,000 beneficiary farmers in both e-voucher and direct input supply districts.
He was speaking at a stakeholder consultation meeting on the ‘Implementation of the E-Voucher in 2018/9’ organised by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International, in collaboration with Oxfam,
“About 548, 665 farmers have redeemed their e-Voucher for inputs giving a total amount of K1, 095,669,580.42 in transactions and 93 percent redemption rate,” said Dr Mtonga.
Dr Mtonga however said that under the direct input supply, there had been some challenges such as late or failure to deliver correct amounts of inputs especially seeds for diversification packs.
He said other challenges included the inefficient distribution of inputs especially fertilisers from distribution warehouses.
Dr Mtonga said under the e-Voucher, some agro-dealers were redeeming vouchers without releasing inputs or only providing incomplete amounts of the expected inputs hoping to supply remaining inputs once they were paid.
“Under the e-Voucher FISP modality, challenges included the following: delayed payments to agro-dealers for inputs supplied to farmers which negatively affected capacity by agro-dealers to restock inputs thereby reducing inputs availability and the delaying further input collection by farmers,
“Others are the insistence on cash sales by most input suppliers especially fertiliser suppliers which negatively affected the distribution of inputs in most districts as ago-dealers depend on payment to restock,” he said.
And CUTS Lusaka Centre Coordinator Chenai Mukumba, observed the need to establish a platform where all stakeholders in the agriculture sector could discuss the progress of the implementation of the farmer input support programme in 2018/19.
Ms Mukumba also highlighted the importance of needing to begin preparing for the next farming season now.