The Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) has welcomes the decision by the Ministry of Agriculture to re-stream 40 per cent of the E voucher FISP to the old system.

ZNFU President Jervis Zimba said the move is going to ensure that farmers that have not been captured on the system during the past seasons manage to access inputs on time and contribute to the food security, both at farm and national level.

Mr Zimba said this will also help Government to clean up the database and work on all the challenges that the ZIAMIS system encountered during the 2017/2018 farming season.

He however implored Government to also revert 30 per cent of the 60 per cent that of farmers that have remained on the e voucher to the Union.

Mr Zimba said this is because ZNFU already has 30 per cent of the FISP farmer database which Government could use to efficiently roll out the programme.

“Reverting 30 per cent of the E Voucher to ZNFU will help reduce workload on Government and speed up inputs access by farmers. But this will be realised if Government engages the ZNFU and actualises the reversion soonest before the inputs distribution exercise kicks in. ZNFU is ready to work with the Ministry of Agriculture because the Union does not want farmers to continue facing similar challenges of poor access or late access to inputs year in year out,” he said.

Mr Zimba also urged Government to immediately scrap the insurance scheme co-opted in the E Voucher because going by the developments and experiences encountered in the 2017/2018 farming season.

He said the scheme has had no benefit to farmers whatsoever, but the insurance company contracted to handle the scheme.

“Presently, no farmer on the E Voucher insurance scheme has been visited nor been compensated for the losses incurred as a result of the drought experienced from December 2017 through to February 2018. The ZNFU feels this is just a cost that can be avoided until the insurance component of the E Voucher is carefully thought through,” he said.

“In view of the above, the FRA should wake up to the challenge of paying farmers on time. In the absence of the FRA not paying farmers on time the whole exercise will be a flop.”

And Mr Zimba has Government to change the system of releasing money by allowing the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) to avail funds directly to the Agency, as opposed to the current system where money moves from the Central Bank to the Ministry of Finance, and from the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Agriculture and then to the FRA.

“In the process we find that priorities between Agriculture and Finance will be different, hence late funding to FRA. The system we are proposing has been used before to quicken payment to farmers,” he said.

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