58 per cent of farmers nationwide prefer using the electronic voucher over the old traditional Direct Input Supply (DIS) system under the Famer Input Support Programme (FISP), a CUTS survey reveals.

And the same survey equally cited 68 per cent of 50 members of parliament who support the full implementation of the E-voucher provided that its teething challenges can be resolved.

In a statement availed by Consumer Unity and Trust Society’s (CUTS) communications officer Njavwa Wilanji Simukoko, Tuesday, citing findings from Ishmael Zulu, 58 per cent of farmers nationwide preferred using the E-voucher over the traditional DIS system under FISP owing to its wide range of input diversity and potential to boost earnings.

This followed a nationally representative study to ascertain how farmers had reacted to the E-Voucher and its long-term feasibility.

“CUTS undertook a nationally representative study that found that 58 per cent of farmers that used the E-voucher programme preferred it to the DIS system. This was confirmed at a review meeting that CUTS held on May 7, 2019, where numerous farmers said that they believe the E-voucher to be the future,” the statement read.

“To complement our survey of farmers, CUTS also surveyed 50 members of parliament to ascertain their views on the E-voucher. Of these, 80 per cent agreed that the E-voucher programme is the right policy for Zambia, but needs to be implemented properly. This shows that there is a broad cross-party recognition that the E-voucher is a better policy than the FISP and that its problems lie with its implementation. When the members of parliament were asked: ‘do you support the aim of returning to a 100 per cent E-voucher once implementation issues have been addressed?’ Over 60 per cent of MPs agreed.”

The E-Voucher programme created around 3,000 jobs in the last farming season, according to CUTS’ findings.

“The E-voucher programme is also key for economic growth. The full roll out of the programme in the 2018/19 farming season saw the direct creation of around 3,000 jobs, while even more indirect jobs were created. In order to boost agricultural productivity – in line with the 7NDP – it is important that the sector is private sector let in. The E-voucher programme ensures the crowding-in of the private sector, allowing them to take up roles from the government,” read the statement.

“CUTS polling – supported by farmers’ views expressed during the 2018/19 season review and policy research – demonstrate that there is a broad consensus that the E-voucher is the best programme for the country. Farmers appreciate the choice they are provided with, which allows them to increase their incomes, and decision-makers across the party spectrum recognise that the programme can deliver poverty reduction, job creation and reduced government expenditure.”