Lessons leant from the implementation of the E-voucher pilot

Lessons leant from the implementation of the E-voucher pilot

An e-voucher uses a mobile delivery and tracking system to distribute subsidized agricultural inputs through agro-dealers/input suppliers to targeted farmers. Each beneficiary farmer’s e-card is linked to their specific name and National Registration Card (NRC) number. On confirmation of the transaction, an e-voucher allows instant electronic payment to agro-dealers/input suppliers’ online accounts for the inputs redeemed by the farmer.

This Brief looks at the example of Zambia which is in the process of reforming the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) to implement the subsidy program through a flexible electronic voucher.

  • Electronic voucher system (E-voucher) implementation has crowded in more private sector participation in inputs distribution to rural farmers in the initial 13 pilot districts. Agro dealers are now able to stock more diverse inputs in their shops
  • dspite some notable delays in e-cards activation, most farmers reported having access to inputs of their choice on time in nearby agro-dealer shops
  • about 85% of the farming households redeemed their vouchers for fertilizer and maize seed. The remaining 15% purchased other farm inputs. This is likely to increase during second phase of pilot, hence unlocking the potential to for agricultural diversification in the country

Despite these successes, the e-voucher pilot was faced with challenges that threatened the successful implementation of the program. These included the following:

  • delayed submission of beneficiaries lists to the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) Programme Coordinating Office resulting in delayed delivery and activation of e-cards;
  • rising fertilizer prices due to the depreciation of the kwacha that nearly made the e-voucher less attractive to the traditional Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP). Government had to top-up the value of the voucher from 1,400 to 2,100 kwacha, inclusive of farmer contribution of 400 kwacha
  • there were cases in Central Province of deliberate effort by some MoA staff to derail the implementation of e-voucher pilot in support of the traditional FISP. MoA’s quick action to discipline renegade staff solved the problem
  • reported selective activation of e-cards, a problem that led to delayed access of inputs by some farmers
  • reported incidences of farmers surrendering their non-activated cards to agro-dealers to access inputs in advance. This could have led to some farmers losing out as some agrodealers might have redeemed the cards in the absence of the farmers; and
  • the charging of a redemption fee of 7 kwacha affected some farmers as they could not use the full value of the e-card
  • finally, the current e-voucher redemption system does not have the capability of identifying the type of inputs redeemed by farmers. This makes it impossible to map the demand for various inputs


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