CUTS Supports E-FISP

Zambia Reports, March 21, 2019

The Consumer Unity and Trust Society has said the electronic Farmer Input Support Programme (e-FISP) delivers on the commitment to support growth in the Seventh National Development Programme (7NDP).

CUTS, in a statement, stated that the e-FISP empowers farmers with choice, “enabling them to improve their incomes and graduate from the programme, a long-elusive goal of the traditional FISP, under which poverty has remained stagnant”.

The statement followed last month’s meeting with key stakeholders in the agriculture sector to analyze the implementation of the e-FISP in the 2018/2019 farming season.

“Over the last month, politicians, farmers and traders have been dissecting the effectiveness of the e-FISP following governments announcement of the 60-40 scale back. On 6 February, the Consumer Unity Trust Society (CUTS) brought together key stakeholders in the agriculture sector to analyse the implementation of the e-FISP in the 2018/2019 farming season.

The meeting found that the e-voucher remained overwhelmingly positive with the agro-dealers, fertiliser companies and more especially the farmers, who are empowered with choice over inputs, and was creating much-needed off-farm jobs in the private sector,” CUTS stated in a statement.

“However, it was highlighted that one of the key factors hindering its success was government arrears to agro-dealers which delayed the delivery of inputs to farmers. At the meeting, a broad coalition of farmers, agro-dealers, suppliers, civil society and think tanks emphasised their commitment to the e-voucher, applauded government progress on farmer registration through ZIAMIS and identified a clear fix for next year’s rollout – the immediate payment of agro-dealers.

CUTS has long advocated that a key benefit of the e-FISP is the increased farmer input choice, bringing diversification to reality. The ability to choose which inputs to access and which traders to purchase from is a key component of the e-voucher.”

It noted that the farmers made testimonies about how the current system allowed them to diversify through choice over inputs, with one saying she had now embarked on poultry and livestock farming.

“The e-FISP crowds-in the private sector by utilising agro-dealers to provide, store and transport inputs to beneficiaries which has provided a ‘win-win’ by creating jobs and reducing government expenditure at a time of austerity.

At the CUTS event, agro-dealers highlighted the jobs created in districts under the e-FISP, confirming IAPRI estimate that 3,000 jobs were created in agro-dealerships alone in the 2017-18 season – as well as the jobs lost in districts which reverted to the Direct Input Supply (DIS) system this year,” stated CUTS.

“The e-FISP enables government with two key factors – the creation of jobs and reducing government expenditure. Agro-dealers are essential to the e-FISP, but there was a problem this year with late payments by government, which hindered the overall success of the programme. Under this years system, agro-dealers are paid directly by government for providing farmers with their inputs.

However, delays meant that agro-dealers suffered from cash flow issues, leaving them unable to provide farmers with their inputs on time and, in some cases, forcing them to close…

The e-FISP can work – and key area of focus is in achieving success is in ensuring timely payment to the agro-dealers.”

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