KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
THE Indaba Agricultural Policy and Research Institute (IAPRI) has called on Government to make funds available on time for the full roll-out of the electronic-voucher system in the 2017/18 farming season to ensure farmers redeem agro inputs timely.
IAPRI says Government needs to address key challenges faced during the pilot programme by being committed towards the roll-out of the plan nationwide to ensure the system is ready for the next farming season.
This is to harness the huge potential of the electronic farmer input support programme (FISP), according to IAPRI’s policy brief on e-voucher performance and recommendations for nation-wide roll-out during the 2017/18 farming season.
The report notes that creating an independent delivery task force to implement the programme is vital to ensure the processes, actors and resources are in place.
“IAPRI calls on the Government to commit to the full roll-out of the electronic voucher for the 2017/18 framing season and by doing so commit to making funds available on time to enable the activation of cards, holding banks to account to deliver e-cards on time and urgently educating farmers to enable them to benefit in full from the electronic-FISP,’’ the statement reads.
It says farmers need not wait weeks to have their electronic cards pin code problem resolved, instead, there should be a system that allows local banks to handle issues of lost pin codes including activations.
IAPRI recommends that in next farming season, banks should set-up dedicated desks to handle e-FISP farmer deposits and issues.
The statement notes the need for a mechanism that allows farmers to use any bank that is in their locality.
It also suggests that Government and Zambia National Farmers’ Union should ensure that bar codes are formulated for all the agro products covered under the electronic-FISP for proper monitoring and evaluation of the programme.