CARITAS Chipata governance unit programmes coordinator John Mthaziko Zulu says government inconsistencies in the agriculture sector aredisappointing. Commenting on the move by the government to only maintain four districts on the e-voucher system for distributing inputs under the Farmer Input Support Programme, Zulu said reverting most districts to the conventional method of input distribution was not ideal.
“For us, changing the system is not an answer to the problems that we experienced during the last farming season. There is only one reasonthat made the e-voucher system to fail and that reason is the failure by the Ministry of Finance to release money to the Ministry of Agriculture so that this ministry can channel those monies to the banks so that the e-vouchers are activated in time,” Zulu said.He said any system the government would bring would not be important as long as farmers did not get inputs in time.“We want to see to it that farmers get their inputs on time, that is important for us,” said Zulu.
Several farmers that took part in the Feel Free FM phone-in programme yesterday advised the government to stick to the e-voucher. They observed that conventional method of distributing inputs attracted a lot of ghost farmers.
Last week, Eastern Province permanent secretary Chanda Kasolo told journalists that only Mambwe, Nyimba, Sinda and Vubwi districts would receive farming inputs under the e-voucher system in the 2018/2019 farming season.
“Some districts will stick to the e-voucher like we had last year but the others are reverting to the manual system until we get everything right. The challenges that we have had in the e-voucher system have been recognised and we listened to what people have said and in order not to have the same cases that we experienced last year, we have made that change,” said Kasolo.