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Friday, Nov 22nd

Zambia: it's a go for agriculture e-voucher system

Zambia: it's a go for agriculture e-voucher system.

Zambia's cabinet ministers have approved the roll out of an electronic voucher (e-voucher) system for the 2015-2016 farming season under the Fertilizer Input Support programme (FISP).

In early June 2015 the Zambian government announced plans to launch the mobile and tracking system to distribute subsidised seeds and fertilizer through private suppliers to specific farmers in a bid to stop corruption in the distribution of farming inputs.

And now the plan has been approved by cabinet and the ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Services has launched sensitisation meetings for its staff that will be involved in the project.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Service Julius Shawa has announced the approval of the project by Cabinet.

This approval means that the programme will be rolled out in the next two-to-three months to the deserving farmers only in areas that have mobile phone networks. This is because the e-voucher platform uses mobile technology for the activation and redemption of the voucher.

Automatic payments are also made to agro dealers upon successful redemption of an e-voucher.

Instead of using middlemen to distribute agricultural inputs, the e-voucher system would allow farmers to source their inputs directly from seeds producers and suppliers in the country.

"The e-voucher system is a pilot that will start with just four provinces-Central, Copperbelt, Lusaka and Southern provinces. Later the programme would be rolled out to other provinces," Shawa said.

The Zambian government has not said how many people it is targeting in the pilot phase of the programme or how it will measure the success of the programme before rolling it to other provinces.

It believes, however, that the programme will be a success because it has worked well in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

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