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Working towards smart agriculture

FLASHBACK: Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo (right) hands over seed to Chief Kalomo of Chikankata at a field day in Magoye recently. Picture right, Mr Katambo sprays insecticide on an armyworms-infested maize field in Masaiti District.

VIOLET MENGO, Lusaka
IN LAST week’s column, Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo talked about the challenges faced by his ministry in implementing the electronic voucher system and how it is working with the Smart Zambia Institute and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in addressing the technical hitches.
Mr Katambo said the challenges in the e-voucher system include frequent amendment to beneficiary lists from districts resulting in late creation and delivery of some cards by banks and service providers; agro-dealers redeeming farmers’ vouchers without releasing inputs or only providing incomplete quantities hoping to supply the remaining quantities once they are paid; cheating among agro dealers who are swiping but not issuing farmers with inputs in some districts; ICT connectivity which is hampering the capture of deposits and redemption of cards; and late release of funds for the programme.
He says his ministry is working with the technical team at Smart Zambia and FAO to address the delay in non-delivery of e-voucher cards including use of an alternative cardless redeeming application which was used in the last farming season.http://epaper.daily-mail.co.zm/

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