EASTERN Province minister Makebi Zulu says the government is looking into concerns by some farmers whose e-voucher cards were purported to have been redeemed by agro-dealers but did not give inputs to farmers.
Speaking when finance minister Margaret Mwanakatwe paid a courtesy call on him on Tuesday, Zulu said the government had received complaints from farmers that they have not gotten inputs.
“The implementation of the Farmer Input Support Programme went pretty much well except the problem that we have had is a situation where
agro dealers deal with the chairmen for cooperatives, where some agro dealers purported to redeem the cards for the farmers without giving them the supplies. So we had a couple of them coming through to complain that they haven’t gotten the inputs from government but the system shows that they have gotten,” he said.
“So there was an issue of negligence on their part and the issue of fraud on the part of the agro-dealers. We are looking into that but we hope the situation doesn’t repeat itself. But over and above that, there are a lot of projects that are taking place in the province like the Zambia Integrated Forestry Landscape Project. It’s worth about $32.5 million and Eastern Province is the only beneficiary of
Zulu also said the province prefer having the e-voucher system implemented because it works better, adding that agro-dealers deliver the inputs on the doorsteps of the farmers, unlike the conventional method where farmers travel long distances to collect inputs.
He said the buying prices for most crops in the province were impressive because of the issue of supply and demand. Zulu also said Chipata received the most rainfall in the entire country. He said the government was looking forward to having a one-stop border post at Mwami border to expedite transactions. He said for Chanida border, the one-stop border post was done and business was moving quickly. And Mwanakatwe said she was happy to hear that trade of the agricultural output had begun. She also agreed with Zulu that e-voucher system was the way to go.