In the first place, I am not one who flourishes in pointing out ones weaknesses or shortcomings. I am more a forward looking, solution seeking type. But if I think it’s important to learn from the current failure, then I am forced to bend back and elicit lessons from such.
When I heard His Excellency Edgar Lungu acknowledging that the E-voucher, like any new system, challenges here and there are expected, I felt a sigh of relief that at least this is was an opportunity to pacify the negative narratives and salvos that were emanating from all sort of angles – others genuinely complaining but others capitalizing on the moment for political expediency.
What has necessitated me to write this open letter is after hearing Honourable Dora Siliya – the Minister responsible for Agriculture stating that the E-Voucher is a huge success. Surely could this be true? How can it be a success when most farmers are now only accessing their seeds and fertilizers in January? Hon Dora Siliya must not confuse the erratic rainfall being experienced in the nation with late activation of the E-Voucher cards. For her record, let me state that I grew up as a young boy on a farm and I still do grow some crops and animal farming on a small scale.
During UNIP days, seed and fertilizer would be distributed starting August by Namboard. We all know that by October every year, any farmer who relies on rains to grow crops has to have their land prepared and start planting by November or so. My question to the Honourable Minister is how do you claim activating an E-Voucher card in January a success? From your own statement you indicated that we actually still have some cards not activated. Now my question is when do you think the owners of these cards will start planting?
Yes I agree that the agriculture sector must move away from mono cropping syndrome of Maize but this cannot happen in a vacuum. We need to ensure there is more investments in this regard otherwise most farmers will still opt for Maize growing. In any case, even if they opt for other crops, most of those crops still need rains to flourish.
Honourable Minister we must learn from this debacle and ensure that going forward we activate the E-voucher cards by October each year. Then I will be the first one to defend you and the ministry for the job well done. In fact, the amount of silence will be loud enough to know you have done a good job.
Small scale farmer