Banks, the main conduit for the full-scale rollout of the electronic voucher (e-voucher) payment system for Zambia’s Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), have printed more than 500 000 cards for farmers.
A survey by Africanfarming.com showed nearly all major retail banks are well ahead with the preparation of cards which farmers will use to access inputs.
Though some would not go on record, all agreed that systems are being tested to prevent some of the glitches experienced in the previous farming season. The pilot project targeted 600 000 farmers and experienced delays in the delivery of inputs.
Banc ABC said it had printed 210 000 e-voucher cards and the bank is working to add farmers who aren’t on the system yet.
“We intend to increase the number of printed cards and bring services closer to the farmers,” said Joo Chuunga, marketing manager.
Government will spend K2 billion to implement a fully fledged e-voucher payment system during this year’s farming season. The programme is expected to reach 1.6 million smallholder farmers.
Finance Minister Felix Mutati said the system will eliminate wastage and inefficiencies. The programme’s expenditure increased to K2.3 billion from K1.8 billion in the last two years, drawing sharp criticism.
Since then government has undertaken reforms of the programme, including imposing a limit on the number of years a beneficiary can stay on it.
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