FARMERS who will be using the e-voucher system should be patient and give it a chance instead of condemning it before it even takes off, says minister of agriculture Given Lubinda.
Mr Lubinda said involved farmers should take it as the system had not yet started in the selected pilot districts.
He said farmers should not condemn the system before it was implemented and they should give it a chance and see how it would work.
“I would like to appeal to farmers involved in the system to be patient and give this system a chance. That is the more reason why we are calling it a pilot; we want to see how it will work,” he said.
Mr Lubinda said Government would certainly draw lessons from the pilot project and use them to go forward.
“Certainly there will be lessons to be learnt and those lessons will guide us on how to go forward. You cannot fail an exam before you write it, now people are marking this exam even before it is written.
“Can they please allow the system to be implemented and worked on that is why we are very careful with selected few districts to pilot it so we can see the challenges and then we will see how to roll it over to the rest of the country,’’ he said.
He said farmers must present their challenges to the Government instead of condemning the system.
“Let them show me that there are no agro dealers then I will show them that there are agro dealers because the idea of the system is that agro dealers will be following the farmers,” he said.
Mr Lubinda said under the e-voucher system, agro dealers would be delivering farming inputs to farmers.
He explained that farmers would choose to go for other inputs like animal vaccine and feed instead of just getting maize all the time.
“As far as we as we are concerned as Government, this is a very good programme and needs to be supported,” he said.
The minister said Government was aware of the increase in cost of inputs but was quick to mention that those costs were not only for e-voucher but for all inputs including those in the Farmers Input Support Programme (FISP).
Mr Lubinda also said he was aware that some farmers and extensional officers resisted the e-voucher because they were used to the conventional way of distributing the inputs.
He said some conventional officers resisted the new system because they were in control adding that farmers had to go through them to access the inputs.
“I am aware of the fact that there are some farmers and extension officers who are resisting the system because they are used to the old ways of doing things,” he said
Farmers in Kabwe on Saturday condemned the e-voucher system and complained that it had failed.