Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Farmers welcome piloting E- voucher system in Lusaka, Central provinces

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Chongwe District Farmers Association has welcomed the piloting of the E-voucher system in Lusaka and Central provinces.

Speaking in an interview in Chongwe, Association Chairperson David Tembo said farmers are pleased with the development because it will address the challenges they have been facing in accessing inputs through the conventional system.

Mr Banda said farmers are assured of total security of their inputs under the e-voucher system as each farmer will be able to individually purchase inputs of their choice without many complications.

He said a lot of farmers in Chongwe did not collect their inputs in full last year due to various challenges such as late delivery and distribution of inputs.

“Some of those who were in charge of distributing inputs were collecting them for themselves which led to some farmers having a shortfall of inputs,” Mr Banda said.

Mr Banda also added that a lot of farmers from cooperatives contributed money for the inputs on time but did not access them on time due to complications in the implementation process of the conventional system.

He however, stated that the e-voucher system presented a challenge for elderly beneficiaries in the past as this group of people could mostly forget their passwords to their electronic accounts which made it difficult for them to purchase inputs from Agro shops.

Mr Banda implored government to address this problem by replacing passwords with other security features which will not require elderly people to easily access their inputs.

“We are appealing to government to come up with other security features such as fingerprint recognition which will not require elderly beneficiaries to master anything to access their accounts under e-voucher. This will go a long way in helping them to access inputs without challenges which we noted under this system in the past,” Mr Banda said.

He called on government to continue making efforts to improve the delivery and distribution of inputs to farmers in the country.

Meanwhile, Saini Sibande a farmer in Kapete ward stated that reverting to the e-voucher system will increase transparency because a number of third parties will be removed from the process of accessing inputs.

Mr Sibande said the conventional system also allowed a few members representing their respective cooperatives to collect inputs of behalf of other members which resulted in some farmers being disadvantaged as the ones collecting the commodities would not distribute them equally to other members.

He further disclosed that there were visible corrupt practices at point’s collection of inputs where farmers were being asked to pay some money to collect their inputs.

“We would spend nights at some collection depots waiting to collect our inputs and the people working there would ask us to bribe them with money if we wanted to be given the inputs immediately. This negatively affected us as not all of us had the money to pay the bribes,” Mr Sibande said.

He urged government to ensure that any corrupt practices existing in the distribution and delivery of inputs are curbed to gain public trust and improve transparency.

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