Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo has said his ministry will inject K1,700 per farmer and is targeting to cover about 1 million beneficiaries for the electronic distribution of subsidies meant to support the growth of peasant farmers into emerging farmers. The total injection will amount to K1.7 billion (about USD170 million).
However, the Agro minister confirmed that the funds are yet to be disbursed. Katambo said his ministry is waiting for the ministry of finance to release the funds for distribution of fertilizer and other farming inputs for this year farming season to commence.
During an exclusive interview with the Zambian Business Times-ZBT, Katambo indicated that the distribution of farming inputs for 2018/19 farming season is targeting about one million farmers across the country and the beneficiaries will decide on the farming inputs to acquire according to their choice.
“This funds are activated with the farmers contribution of K400 (about USD40) contribution and government subsidies an additional K1,700 (about USD170). The total value of the electronic voucher (e-Voucher)each beneficiary subsistence farmers will receive will be K2,100 (about USD210). There is a K100 which is applied for weather index insurance for climatic change challenges which is under the farmer input support program (FISP).
The K2,000 (USD200) is what the beneficiary farmer has value for to pay and swipe through participating Agro dealer networks, so the farmer will swipe according to what that farmer want,” the Agro Minister Katambo said.He further said the distribution is targeted to kick off the same time in all the ten provinces of Zambia once the funds are activated and made available by the ministry of Finance. He called for patience from the beneficiary farmers.
“Farmers just need to be patient, we are on time, by end of October, that is, when the rains will start. For now farmers are busy preparing the fields so that once the inputs are made available they can start to swipe,” he said.
He narrated that his ministry is working with Smart Zambia Institute, in capturing information on the farmers involved through Zambia Integrated Agriculture Management Information System (ZAMIS). “The information once captured will be on farmers’ deposits and strict verification of farmers at input to collection stage using ICT system including biometrics fingers prints for cardless transactions.
Under this system, there will a strict monitoring regarding authority to collect and ensure that only selected and genuine farmers on the ZAMIS system access the inputs,” he explained.
Zambia’s national Maize (corn) production success has a heavy dependance rain fed as well as the success of the input subsidy programs. Maize remains zambia’s number one food crop as it retains its influence as a stable food that is a maize dish at lunch and dinner tables in the majority of households across the country.