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Farmers to transact with e-cards

GOVERNMENT intends to pilot the Electronic Card (e-card) this year to facilitate transactions between farmers and input suppliers under the farmer input support programme (FISP), using the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) Visa Card.
The programme is targeting 241,000 farmers across 13 districts in Southern, Lusaka, Central and Copperbelt Provinces. Government will utilise Visa-enabled ‘pre-paid’ bank card system pioneered and piloted by ZNFU, for farmers under the Lima Credit Scheme in 2014.
According to the ZNFU Friday brief, the targeted farmers will receive a bank card loaded with the subsidy value which will be redeemable through point-of-sale terminals/devices, against a range of agricultural inputs, from authorised agro-dealers/sales points in the pilot districts.
“The FISP e-card is expected to give farmers the purchasing power and freedom of choice of inputs, and create face-to-face business relationships between farmers and input suppliers,” the statement reads.
The implementation of the e-card will also increase competition among players while ensuring that suppliers provide high quality inputs at competitive prices, and for suppliers to get their money in real time.
From Choma, most farmers are happy with Government’s decision to use the electronic voucher system to distribute inputs during the 2015 FISP, but others doubt the actualisation of the plan due to the delay in beginning the sensitisation exercise.
Choma is among the pilot districts that will use the e-voucher system to give out inputs to farmers in the 2015/16 farming season.
“Sensitisation of how the system will operate has been done with the District Agriculture Committee, and Block and Camp Agricultural Committees, but sensitisation of beneficiary farmers is yet to be done,” the statement reads.