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The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in conjunction with Mobile Transaction Zambia Limited (MTZL) has been employing the use of the Electronic Voucher System (E-Voucher) of Input delivery to the farmers under Conservation Agriculture (CA) Projects since 2008. The E-Voucher has been used in implementing Conservation Agriculture Scaling up for Productivity and Production (CASPP) and Farmer Input Support Response Initiative Programme (FISRI) projects in various districts throughout the Nation.
Recognising that conservation farming/conservation agriculture (CF/CA) can play a role in increasing farm productivity and profitability, the FISRI project is promoting CF/CA technologies to enable the integration of aspects that combine timeliness of farm operations, increased use of organic matter, judicial and proper use of mineral fertilizers, improved seeds, irrigation and mechanization (including reduced tillage systems) as well as general land and water management principles. In this context, the project is working through the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MACO) to increase food production through improved access to agricultural inputs, agriculture services and promotion of CF/CA principles.
The overall objective of the project is to contribute to greater food security as a result of increased food production and more sustainable use of environmental resources. The purpose of the action is to increase food production through improved access to CA inputs/implements and contracting services. The action aims also to promote CA principles in order to help mitigate the effects of soaring food and input prices as well as soil degradation.
The main outputs of the project are;
- To increase the capacity of MACO staff and Lead farmers to provide future extension support in CA to the beneficiaries in the country.
- To make available to lead famers and Camp Extension Officers CA inputs and equipments through use of electronic vouchers for use in line with the training and extension provided.
- To pilot CA mechanization to scale up the technology adoption, increase the number of adopters and increase the area under cultivation through provision of agricultural mechanization (tractors (60 HP), tractor drawn CA implements and other similar equipment)
The project will increase the capacity of 486 MACO extension staff and 20 000 Lead farmers in the 30 districts to provide future extension support in CA to the beneficiaries in the country. In order to maintain the momentum and consolidate the knowledge gains among CA farmers, the project is supporting all the Lead farmers from the CASPP, the FISRI and FISRI-Expansion projects. The project is providing support to pilot CA mechanization programme in 6 districts targeting 4000 service hire beneficiaries.
Currently, the E-Voucher is being used in implementing the ongoing FISRI project in reaching approximately 24,000 beneficiaries from 30 districts in all the 9 provinces of Zambia namely; Chongwe, Petauke, Katete, Chipata, Chadza, Mambwe, Nyimba, Lundazi, Mazabuka, Monze, Choma, Kalomo, Sinazongwe, Kazungula, Sesheke, Kaoma, Mumbwa, Chibombo, Kapiri Mposhi, Mkushi, Serenje, Mpongwe, Solwezi, Zambezi, Samfya, Mansa, Mwense, Chiengi, Kawambwa and Isoka. This is for both accessing of farmer inputs as well as agriculture services by farmers.
Under the E-Voucher system, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) identifies the beneficiary camps and farmers following the given target number by FAO. The compiled lists of beneficiaries from each district are sent to FAO for approval after which they are sent to MTZL for input into their Electronic Voucher Database. MTZL once done sends a user list and vouchers each having a serial number connected to individual farmer details i.e. NRC, Name to FAO for initiation of the voucher redemption process by the farmers. Under the ongoing FISRI project, FAO/DRRMU engaged 17 Field Assistants to distribute vouchers in all the 30 districts which are involved in the CA interventions for the 2011/2012 agricultural season. The distribution is closely being monitored and supervised by FAO.
The field assistants who were sent to various districts firstly link the farmers to the MTZL database by comparing the farmer NRCs with the details on the E-Vouchers. Once the details tarry, the farmer is given the voucher to takes to the desired agro dealer to redeem the desired inputs appearing on the vouchers. The Agro dealer gets the voucher from the farmer and enters the details of farmer’s desired inputs into their system which once accepted by the system, the farmer gets the inputs worth the value on the voucher and the agro dealers redeems the money from the system into their account.
So far, the use of the E-Voucher seems to be an efficient way of distributing inputs to farmers.
- The major achievement is the great reduction on the costs of transporting the inputs by road.
- Secondly, the business for available local agro dealers in the districts has been promoted.
- The E-voucher has also greatly prevented the giving of inputs to people who were not initially targeted in the project.