Government through the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) today held a stakeholders training to re-orient staff and stakeholders on the implementation of the programme before it is rolled out in the district.
Samfya District Agricultural Coordinator (DACO) David Kandala welcomed the participants and emphasised the need for effectively implementing the programme in the district.
The DACO further reiterated the need for coordinated efforts between the Ministry of Agriculture and stakeholders who will be helping in the implementation of the programme.
And Hendricks Kabwe from Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) said the E-Voucher system will eliminate alleged abuse by agriculture extension staff as the system is electronic therefore officers will not be directly involved in distributing inputs.
Mr Kabwe said there have been concerns in the past by beneficiaries of officers manipulating the FISP programme to acquire fertiliser but the E-Voucher system which is an alternative way of providing subsidies to beneficiaries by electronic means will remove such incidents as the system works in such a way that only intended beneficiaries’ access the inputs.
Meanwhile Kennedy Mulenga from the Department of Agribusiness and Marketing said the programme will be beneficial to farmers in that the E-Voucher system of FISP enables farmers to access a wide range of inputs as opposed to the old system of FISP were inputs were only limited to fertiliser.
He also said the programme reduces government expenditure as it removes transportation costs that were being previously incurred by government in fertiliser distribution in the past.
During the 2015/2016 agricultural season the Ministry of Agriculture commenced the implementation of the Electronic Voucher System in 13 pilot districts to provide farming input subsidies to 241,000 smallholder farmers.
The 13 pilot districts included Chibombo, Chongwe, Kalomo, Choma, Monze, Mazabuka, Mumbwa, Kabwe, Kapiri Mposhi, Ndola, Chikankata, Chisamba and Pemba.
By Jonas Miselo