Namwala UPND member of parliament Moono Lubezhi has asked the government to revert to the old Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), saying the current e-voucher system has proved to be a failure.
Speaking in an interview with News Diggers! Lubezhi said many farmers in her constituency were complaining that their e-voucher cards had not yet been activated while others were still chasing payments for the maize they sold to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) last season.
“In terms of the e-voucher for the people of Namwala, it hasn’t really worked out well. And you find that for some, even when they go to get the inputs, when they activate the cards, they were finding that there is only what they deposited, what the government has put is not there. So you find that they don’t get what they expected to get because the money which is there on the card is not enough,” Lubezhi observed.
“Worse still, as I am talking to you right now, from the last year’s season, those who sold to FRA, they were not paid. So they were saying at least if the government could pay us, then we were going to be able to buy using our own money. So even FRA hasn’t finished paying everybody, the inputs which went there, its not enough, the cards cannot be activated, the rains unfortunately, they are not there. So this year is really bad.”
She said it was better to go back to FISP, saying even if people used to steal in the line of distribution, the fertiliser ended up in the soil
“I wonder when the President is saying that we should not worry about the food security, I don’t know where he is basing his argument because just looking around, you can tell that there is hunger in this country already. And there was a time the Ministry of Agriculture had said that with the e-voucher system, they had saved money compared to the old system of FISP where we had ghost farmer. But if you were to ask me, they haven’t saved. If you were to ask me, I would rather we go back to FISP because under FISP, even if people used to steal the fertilizer or the input, at the end of the day who eats fertiliser? It used to end up in the soil. They would still sell it to the people who would use it. For me, I think the other system was better than this e-voucher,” said Lubezhi.
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