The delay in distribution of farm inputs is a result of banks failing to distribute electronic voucher (e-voucher) cards to farmers, say Zambian Finance Minister Felix Mutati and his Agriculture counterpart Dora Siliya.
The two ministers decried the performance of the last-mile enablers in the distribution of farmer inputs when they met executives of banks and money mobile operators. Earlier in the week, President Edgar Lungu, incensed by the delays, had ordered the 2 ministers to address the hiccups and ensure farmers received inputs on time.
“We have noticed that some of the challenges included late distribution of cards to farmers. The e-voucher card is critical for the farmer to make deposit for government to make the counter-funding of K1 700,” Mutati said on Monday at a meeting with executives of bank and mobile money operators.
“Late transmission of instructions to bank branches in districts are some of the recurring issues experienced in the last 10 days,” Siliya said.
On Monday the status was that 400 000 farmers had registered and paid their K400 obligation, but were awaiting activation of their cards. An estimated 1 million farmers are to benefit from the government-funded Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).
Although the it was widely believed that the e-voucher system would remedy glitches in the distribution of farm inputs, its performance so far has cast doubt on this. Meanwhile, the farmers’ fury over the delays keeps growing as the end of the planting season approaches.