NANCY SIAME, Lusaka
MINISTER of Finance Felix Mutati has disclosed that the government will this year spend K2 billion to implement the electronic voucher (E-voucher) system under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).
Mr Mutati said once the new system is fully implemented, eligible beneficiaries in the farming community, will receive funds loaded on the State financed e-vouchers.
Mr Mutati said the Government is concerned with resource wastage and the resultant costly transactions experienced over the years in the course of implementing the manual FISP.
This is according to a statement issued yesterday by Ministry of Finance head of media and public relations Chileshe Kandeta.
“In this regard, government is seeking an integrated Information and Communication Technology (ICT) driven solution which is expected to facilitate the elimination of resource wastage and introduce timely and efficient payment transactions and effective service delivery,” Mr Mutati said.
He said implementation of FISP in the manual format facilitated an increase in production by farmers, however, its design and administration has hindered diversification in agriculture as it has focused more on maize production.
“Additionally, the cost structure associated with the distribution of inputs by government has had attendant inefficiencies, it is in this regard that government will migrate to full implementation of the E-Voucher system,” he said.
The multi-sectoral working group on full migration of the FISP to the E-voucher system comprising government ministries and agencies, SMART Zambia, banking and financial services institutions, ICT solution providers, telecommunication companies, the Zambia National Farmers Union, agro-product suppliers, and transporters, met to agree on a framework of engagement for the speedy transformation of the current farmer input distribution process into an ICT-based E-voucher system.
Speaking at the same function, Ministry of Agriculture permanent secretary Julius Shawa said stakeholders in the agriculture sector need to embrace the E-voucher system to ensure that efficiency in servicing farmers and accelerating agriculture development is attained.
And ZNFU head of business development Coillard Hamusimbi said the full implementation of the E-voucher system by the government is long overdue
“The process of arriving at a solution acceptable to all would be managed better if the different competencies of the stakeholders are harnessed according to their areas of expertise,” Mr Hamusimbi said.