By SANDRA MACHIMA
AGRO dealers contracted to distribute inputs to farmers do not have enough stock to meet farmers’ requirements, Zambia Agriculture Rural Development Initiative executive director Gilbert Mpanga has charged.
Mr Mpanga said his organisation was monitoring the new electronic voucher system introduced by Government for farmers to access inputs, but had found that some contracted companies had failed to meet the needs of farmers.
He said fertilizer suppliers for the e-voucher programme had undermined agro-dealers’ access to commodities as suppliers themselves were swiping direct to farmers.
“As an organisation close to rural farmers we are very concerned with the number of challenges such as the late activation of e-voucher cards in some provinces when the Government had already done its part in this process.
‘‘And also some agro-dealers that are given a task to supply the farmers with commodities have no enough stock and you find that they run out of stock while farmers are in need,” he said.
Mr Mpanga noted that some agencies charged with the responsibility of distributing farming inputs were jeopardizing efforts made by Government.
He said introduced electronic voucher system for farmers’ was now targeting eligible farmers, but that the process needed to be monitored so that it was not exploited by those who did not qualify.
He appealed to agro dealers that were contracted to supply the input to ensure stocks were available, saying he was aware that some dealers had had no stocks.
“Government has done its part and the flagging of the input distribution for 2016-2017 farming season early was a plus to farmers, especially that the country was blessed with good rains so far,” he said.
He said his organisation was monitoring the process to ensure farmers benefited from the programme.
“As an organisation close to rural farmers we are very concerned with the number of challenges such as the late activation of e-voucher cards in some provinces when the Government had already done its part in this process,’’ he said.
Mr Mpanga called on Government to recruit more agriculture personnel to widen the sector as it remained the mainstay of the country’s economy.