Farmers in Rumphi have praised government’s new e-voucher initiative for buying inputs under the 2014/2015 Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp), saying the system has minimised corruption.
Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, principal village head Jeyeka Mbale, who is also chairperson for Rumphi Admarc committee, said there were no cases of corruption at Bolero Extension Planning Area (EPA) where the system is being implemented.
Mbale, however, said the challenge with the initiative is that farmers spend too much time buying the inputs due to poor network coverage the system depends on.
Government is piloting the system in 18 EPAs.
Out of these, Capital Hill is piloting the system for seeds in 13 EPAs while piloting for both seeds and fertiliser in the remaining five EPAs in Rumphi, Mzimba, Mchinji, Lilongwe and Blantyre.
“We ask government to continue with the initiative because it reduces the risk of corruption. But they should work on improving network coverage so that we do not waste a lot of time when buying the inputs,” he said.
On his part, Fisp deputy coordinator Osborne Tsoka said the system is being implemented with funding from United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) to help curb corruption and reduce influx of fake coupons on the market.
He said the issue of network is a general concern since most of the rural areas do not have [mobile] network coverage.
“We have talked to TNM and Airtel [network providers] to provide networks in such areas to reduce challenges farmers are facing.
“But farmers need not to worry much because benefits of the system surpass network challenges,” he said.
Tsoka said the introduction of the bio-metric registration system to be rolled out, probably next year, will reduce further such problems as redemption of inputs by illegal beneficiaries and influx of fake coupons.