The electronic voucher (e-vouchers) system for the 2016/2017 farming seasons is mired in delays, because of a cash shortfall of K400 m. This according to Agriculture permanent secretary Julius Shawa, who appeared before parliament’s budget committee.
Shawa said his ministry needed K1.04 bn to sufficiently fund the e-voucher payments. So far it had only received K620 m from Treasury. The system forms part of the Farmer Input Support Programme.
“This shortfall is contributing to the delays in the issuing of electronic Visa cards for a number of farmers to access their inputs,” Shawa said. Farmers in 39 districts, where the e-voucher system is being piloted, are affected.
The ministry had agreements with some dealers to allow farmers access to inputs in the interim, while financing is sorted out. “Some have agreed while others have refused. We are hoping that the remaining K400 m will be released sooner rather than later, so that we can activate the cards of the affected farmers,” he said.
Government has increased the e-voucher programme for the 2016/2017 farming season, targeting 602,521 farmers in 39 districts. It intends to comprehensively implement the programme by 2017/2018.