TRYNESS MBALE, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has disbursed 200,000 electronic vouchers (E-vouchers) out of the targeted 241,000 farmers across 13 districts for the 2015/16 farming season.
The programme is being implemented in Southern, Lusaka, Central and Copperbelt provinces to facilitate transactions between farmers and input suppliers under the farmer input support programme (FISP).
Minister of Agriculture Given Lubinda said the farmers, who have received the E-cards, will be redeeming inputs from government-engaged agro-dealers.
â€œThe FISP E-card will address the challenges which used to affect farmers in terms of collection and will give farmers the purchasing power and freedom of choice of inputs,â€ Mr Lubinda said at the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) agricultural investment facilitation forum recently.
He also said 180 new agro-dealers have been engaged by Government in the 13 districts where the E-voucher is being piloted.
He said through the implementation of the electronic card, Government has so far created 2,800 jobs and more will be created in the 2016/17 farming season when the programme is rolled out countrywide.
Mr Lubinda said Government is also putting in place policies that will crowd in the private sector such as the piloting of the E-voucher in the input supply to small-scale farmers as well as promoting private sector investment in marketing and agro-processing.
Meanwhile, he said the purpose of the forum is to discuss practical investment agreements within the framework of the national agriculture investment plan (NAIP) as well as to see how private sector investment in agriculture can be enhanced and sustained.
NAIP recognises the need to attract more investments for increased funding of the agriculture sector throughout Africa.
â€œWe will continue to create and provide a conducive environment for the private sector to invest in agriculture. We are committed to a sustainable agriculture that is transparent, efficient and private sector-led.
â€œInvestment in the agriculture sector will trigger the development of this sleeping giant and contribute to resolving some of the economic challenges that the country has been facing,â€ he said.
TRYNESS MBALE, Lusaka