The following were some of the highlights from the presentations;
• In the 2017/18 farming season, government rolled out the E-Voucher programme nationwide
• In the 2018/19 farming season, due to challenges in implementation such as network connectivity and agro dealer capacity, government scaled back to 40 percent traditional FISP (through Direct Input Supply (DIS)) and 60 percent e-FISP.
• 45 districts (371,616 farmers) were covered under DIS while 650,818 farmers remained under e-FISP
• Both DIS and e-FISP were implemented through a digitalised card-less system
• However, DIS and e-FISP are different – DIS is only an improved version of the traditional FISP but cannot fully address the shortcomings of the traditional system
He was able to bring out some of the strengths and weaknesses of Direct Input Supply
Strengths – Smooth delivery on inputs through the ZIAMIS platform, because of governments subsidised input prices under traditional FISP, farmers under DIS got more fertiliser than those under E-FISP
Weaknesses – Fertiliser and seed suppliers were not paid on time, some farmers received expired seed, Lack of choice in inputs, and only few selected suppliers were participating in the programme and loss of jobs for some agro dealers. He further highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of E-FISP.
Strengths – Smooth implementation of the card less system and use of ZIAMIS, Farmer registration and depositing of funds was a success, increased choice for farmers and lastly Growth of agro dealer subsector
Challenges – Late release of programme funds to agro-dealers and some network issues still persist
The meeting was further informed that following the study, a consultative meeting was held with stakeholders and the following were noted responses on E-voucher.
In his conclusion he was able to put the following recommendations:
• The e-voucher system is fundamentally much more effective and efficient way of delivering inputs to farmers as it depends on private sector led input distribution and marketing. Therefore, government must roll out the programme 100%
• Funds for agro dealers must be released on time
• Minimise human interference in system operations and improve payment system
• Plan early for the farming season to avoid delaying inputs reaching the farmers on time.