Activation of the electronic voucher cards enabling farmers to access subsidised inputs from agro-dealers for this farming season is ongoing, Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has announced.

The e-voucher system, implemented by ZNFU in partnership with government under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) scheme reduces excessive overheads and wastage associated with the manual system.

Now farmers will get any agriculture input other than maize seeds and fertiliser.

Reports have emerged that some district agricultural officers are delaying submission of names to ZNFU for activation of the cards, as the electronic system remove loopholes for creating ‘ghost farmers’ associated with the manual system.

However, Coillard Hamusimbi, ZNFU head of membership service and agri-business attributes the activation delays to late distribution of e-voucher cards, especially to newly-registered farmers.

“The roll-out of the e-voucher cards for the 2015-16 farming season intended to cater for 241,000 cards and 234,000 cards were distributed with about 211,000 cards activated.

“But for this farming season, we have added 26 new districts, with 368,832 cards intended to be distributed making the total number of cards to be distributed to 602,521 in 39 districts around the country,” Hamusimbi said.

So far, cards totalling 346,497 have been distributed and farmers who have already received the cards are required to deposit the K400 contribution on time if their cards are to be activated.

Hamusimbi also urged district agricultural officers to urgently submit the details of farmers who have deposited contributions to ZNFU to have their cards activated.

“We are on the ground and we are working tirelessly to ensure that all farmers receive their e-voucher cards and that they have them activated to enable them receive their inputs.”

This season’s activation target to smoothly incorporate both old and new farmers into the system.