29 village headmen from Chief Chamuka in the farming district of Chisamba have called on government to come out in the open and scrap the Farmer Input Support Program instead of hiding under consistent lies such as inactivated e-voucher cards which have led to most small scale farmers not getting inputs in spite of paying the affiliation fees.
The call was made on behalf of the rest by an irate headman Chamfwe who said that most of the farmers have not received the farming inputs in spite of having paid the K400 affiliation fees while government has consistently been telling lies, accusing agro dealers and fertiliser distributors. He said that if government cannot fund the exercise it is better for them to come out in the open so that farmers can plan and buy seed and fertiliser in advance after selling their produce.
“Why are they cheating? They gave an assurance that we shall get our inputs on time, then they brought in this e-voucher system which was just a cover up for their inefficiency. They said the cards are not activated because one has not paid but even after farmers pay the K400 per farmer the cards are not activated, they must come out in the open if they have failed to fund agriculture so that farmers plan in advance and buy seed and fertiliser using their money after selling the produce,” he charged.
PF government has been issuing conflicting statements on agriculture inputs delivery. Agriculture Permanent secretary Julius Shawa and then minister Given Lubinda who introduced the e-voucher system assured the nation last year that all farmers will get inputs on time. President Edgar Lungu has since described the e-voucher system as a flop and has called for investigations, he has also accused civil servants of sabotaging the distribution system while agriculture minister Dora Siliya recently said that it is not government’s responsibility to continue funding small scale farmers.
The mess associated with delayed payments for produce and non delivery of inputs in the in agriculture system has led to most small scale farmers in Chief Chamuka and other parts of the country to sell their livestock so that they can buy the seed and fertiliser.