Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo has told Parliament that 88,101 farmers have not yet received farming inputs because the ministry is still waiting for funding from the Treasury.

In a ministerial statement, Wednesday, Katambo outlined some of the successes of the e-voucher system but admitted that several challenges led to late delivery of farming inputs.

He reiterated that the e-voucher system eliminated the risk of having ghost farmers.

“Another notable success of the new system was the ability of the new implementers to view the prices being offered by both suppliers and agro dealers. The unprecedented levels of competition among suppliers and agro dealers has also been a notable success. This contributed to a reduction of prices in the inputs across the country with an average price of a 50 kg bag of fertilizer coming down to K280 compared to K320 in the 2016/2017 season. This trend meant that most farmers were able to redeem more inputs than they did during the 2016/2017 farming season. Further, there were no reports of inputs running out,” he said.

“Despite the above mentioned successes of the program, a number of challenges were encountered. Initially, the frequent amendments to beneficiary lists from districts resulted in late creation and delivery of some cards by some banks and service providers in some districts. There were also some delays in loading of funds unto the e-voucher cards by some banks and financial service providers. In some places, ICT connectivity challenges hampered the capturing of deposits and redemption of cards. To date, a total of 88,101 farmers are yet to be paid their government contribution of K1,600 as the ministry awaits funds from the Treasury.”

Katambo explained how the ministry utilized the funds which had so far been released.

“The budgetary allocation to FISP for the 2017 fiscal year was 2.8 billion. This was meant to support one million farmers with subsidized agriculture inputs using the e-voucher system. Of this amount, 1.7 billion was for loading e-voucher cards and 1.1 billion was used to settle outstanding debts owed to input suppliers and service providers daily from 2016/2017 season. The FISP was implemented on the basis of cost sharing between the beneficiary farmers and government. Farmers were required to contribute k400 to the total value of the e-voucher with the government contributing K1,700, giving a total of K2,100 and out of this, K100 was set aside for the weather index insurance, giving the net redeemable value of K2,000 for the e-voucher per farmer,” said Katambo.

“The ministry has to date received 3.02 billion and has since disbursed a total of 1.1 billion to the six participating banks and the two financial service providers for loading onto the farmers’ e-voucher cards. 90 million has gone to weather index insurance. a total of 1.18 billion was paid as debt to fertilizer suppliers, seed suppliers, production of e-voucher cards and transportation for the 2016/2017 season whilst 13 million was utilized for administrative costs of managing and coordinating the program has national, provincial and district levels. Madam Speaker, out of the targeted one million farmers for the 2017/2018 farming season, a total of 804,262 farmers managed to deposit their farmer contribution giving 80 per cent coverage. As at February 2018, a total of 716,161 farmers had paid the government contribution, the ministry is currently waiting for funding, amounting to K185 million from the Treasury to pay the remaining government contribution through the participating banks.”