The Zambian government has introduced a gender quota of 45% women for this year’s Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), said Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya.
Local media reports Siliya said the move is in line with government’s plan for economic diversification.
“Government wants gender quality in its development agenda and will ensure that at least 45% of women access farm inputs in the next farming season,” she said.
Government will this year spend K2 billion to support 1 million farmers under FISP. A key feature of the revamped programme is a fully-fledged electronic voucher (e-voucher) payment system.
The new system will also support up to 10 crops to accelerate diversification. Previously, FISP largely covered maize production. Now tomatoes, cassava, cashew nuts, soybean and groundnuts are among the broadened crop coverage under FISP.
Siliya said implementation of the new system will improve FISP’s administration – it was previously fraught with delays and maladministration.
This caused much criticism, leading government to reform the programme. Changes now include a limit on the number of years a recipient can stay on it.
Meanwhile, banks have printed nearly 1 million e-voucher cards in preparation of the 2017/2018 farming season. Officials at the Bankers Association of Zambia (BAZ) told Africanfarming.com all major banks can roll out the cards as soon as the season opens.