Sinda District Agricultural Committee chairperson Masauso Zulu says farmers in Sinda are regretting using the E-voucher system because it has failed them.

But District Agriculture Coordinating Officer Henry Mkulumoya has claimed that his district is “doing fine” on the government’s E-voucher system of distributing farming inputs.

In an interview, Zulu wondered why some shops were selling fertilizer cheaply compared to Agro dealers who had hiked the price of the commodity.

“This is making a farmer gets six bags of fertilizer without seed instead of seven bags and seed on top. The farmers are not happy because our expectations from this E-voucher system has not helped us. Imagine shops, just cheap businessman, are selling fertilizer at about K250 but an Agro dealer is at K350, making farmers walk away with only six bags of fertilizer without seed, meaning farmers have to plant their local maize and when we compare with our colleagues in Petauke who are using the old system, they are getting seven bags of fertilizer and seed on top but here mukwasu nimabvuto cakuti phindu ya (my friend, we have problems such that the purpose of) E-voucher tuiona lini yai (is not seen at all),” Zulu complained.

He further wondered why government was “very quiet” about the abuse of farmers by Agro dealers.

“This is a government programme but we are surprised that government is totally quiet over this. It’s them who can speak for farmers to these Agro dealers but their quietness in the matter is quite disappointing such that as farmers, we regret joining E-voucher,” said Zulu. “…most farmers regret depositing money for E-voucher system…the current situation is quiet bad.”

However, Mkulumoya, in an interview, claimed that farmers in Sinda were not complaining about the system of distributing farming inputs, and branded those doing so as “not genuine farmers”.

“Let people not confuse my farmers. My farmers are not complaining and those that are complaining are not genuine farmers and are those that want to move out of the district. The government is doing fine and if one complains, then they are being unfair to the government. Let them not compare with other districts like Katete, Chipata and Petauke as these district use old system while Sinda and Vubwi are using the E voucher system,” Mkulumoya said.

He said the district had targeted 15,800 farmers under the E-voucher system in the 2018/2019 farming season and that 14,700 had already deposited their money for the inputs.

“…There is no Agro dealer who has quoted their own prices; all the Agro dealers are on the uniform price countrywide,” said Mkulumoya.