After the first season of implementation, farmers in Zambia still experienced some hitches with the Farmer Input Service Progam (FIST) E-voucher system implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA).
Farmers in the Copperbelt province called on the authorities responsible for the system to speed up the process, since delays might cause them to plant late, affecting their overall production.
In the latest ZNFU weekly brief, farmers expressed their doubt as to whether the system would work for the current season, since very little seemed to be happening so far.
Old system faster
According to the ZNFU, some rural districts in the province that are not using the new system, like Mpongwe, Masaiti, and Lugwanyama, already received all their inputs.
The FISP E-voucher was implemented by the MoA during the 2015/2016 season as a way for small scale farmers to have more input options than the seed and fertilisers distributed by the MoA via the conventional system, when buying farm inputs. The E-voucher consists of a input subsidy provided through a pre-paid VISA bank card.
According to Musika, an NGO supporting the government with the E-voucher system, a total of 241 000 farmers in 13 pilot districts in the Southern, Lusaka, Central and Copperbelt provinces received their inputs via the newly implemented system during the first year.
For the 2016/2017 season a total of 39 districts all over the country have been identified for the use of the E-voucher system.
Feedback needed from dealers
In the Solwezi District in the North Western Province, the district commissioner, Rose Kamalonga, appealed to agricultural dealers in Solwezi participating in the E-voucher program to do their best to make the program a success.
She advised these dealers to present their challenges to the Ministry of Agriculture, the ZNFU or MUSIKA, so that all problems are dealt with in the shortest possible time.
She also called on to these dealers to stock a sufficient variety of inputs to provide in the needs of all the beneficiary small scale farmers.
In the Kasama district, a total of 110 E-voucher redeeming sites have been set up to ease up access for farmers. According to the district agricultural coordinator officer, Benny Tembo, a total of 27 700 farmers was identified as beneficiaries of the FISP-system for the new season.