The Zambian government’s roll-out of the ZMW 400 million (US$ 40 million) Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) to farmers using the e-voucher payment systems has experienced glitches in some parts of the country. This resulted in delays in the delivery of inputs as the summer planting season gets under way.
The affected areas in which farmers have complained about delays in receiving payments are Lusaka, Eastern, Central, and the Copperbelt.
“I’m really bothered about the delay. I don’t know if this year we will receive Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP),” said Boston Serenje, a farmer in Mumbwa, some 45 kilometres west of the capital Lusaka.
Laston Jere, a farmer of Luanshya, 400 kilometres from Lusaka, expressed similar anxieties about delayed farmer inputs.
“Even here there is silence. No feedback from the extension officer. I’m told that there is a payment problem, and it is really worrying, Minister Dora Siliya, what is happening?” he posted.
But government has assured farmers that the farm inputs will be distributed to all farmers by mid-December.
Minister of agriculture Dora Siliya yesterday told a 2017 post national budget interaction in Chipata, the capital of Eastern Province, that government will fully and successfully implement the e-voucher system targeting 1.6 million farmers in the 2017/2018 farming season.
A contracted distributor told the same gathering that 45,000 farmers will get ZMW 100 million worth of e-vouchers by the end of this week.
Meanwhile, the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) has cautioned farmers against buying sub-standard imported fertilisers re-packaged under false labels.
“Farmers and consumers in general are advised to pay particular attention to the labelling of fertiliser,” said Hazel Zulu, ZABS’ Marketing and Public Relations Manager.
Zulu revealed that ZABS had intensified inspections of imported fertilisers to keep at bay below standard imports with more than 632 inspections done in October 2016.