The full migration to electronic voucher (e-voucher) payment systems for the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) will create 3 000 new jobs for agro dealers, says the Indaba Agricultural Research Policy Institute (IAPRI).
The institute says more indirect jobs, especially in the banking and transport sector, will be created.
“The creation of much-needed jobs validates the strong case for e-vouchers and sets a challenge for government to ensure successful implementation,” said IAPRI.
It said government’s policy shift is a pragmatic way of addressing high unemployment rates in Zambia.
Almost 90% of the population is either unemployed, or work in the informal sector. Nearly half of the country’s population depends on agriculture for their livelihood and employment. This makes a strong case for government to continue pushing for opportunities to use the industry to drive job creation.
On the increasing cost of inputs, IAPRI said the creation of new agro jobs will spur competition, which in turn will help drive down prices.
The institute also said under the new system, farmers will have a greater choice of inputs. This will speed up plans to accelerate diversification in the agricultural sector.
This year, government will spend K1.8 billion to support 1 million smallholder farmers under FISP. Previously, the programme was plagued by malpractice and delays. After a complete overhaul, more than 600 000 so-called ghost farmers were removed, with treasury saving K1 billion.