By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
SOME cooperative leaders in Lundazi are allegedly swindling farmers under the Farmers Input Support programme (FISP) and have since held on to their electronic-voucher cards.
From a FISP e-voucher card whose value is K2, 000, farmers have only been receiving two bags of fertilisers from their leaders.
According to Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) public relations officer, Kelvin Kaleyi, some cooperative leaders in Lundazi were allegedly redeeming inputs using farmers’ cards which they were holding on to.
Mr. Kaleyi explained that briefs from ZNFU facilitators from Lundazi indicated that farmers were allegedly being swindled by some cooperative leaders.
“These are briefs we get from our facilitators on the ground. What the farmers are complaining about is that from the K2, 000 they are supposed to redeem, they are only redeeming two bags of fertiliser and the aome leaders are holding on to their cards,
“So the fear among these farmers is that the leaders may be redeemed those cards and maybe put to other people, farmers have not been redeeming the full value of their cards so this is the major outcry among farmers,” he said.
Mr. Kaleyi said in an interview that the development came to light when the ZNFU Lundazi office visited the district agricultural coordinators (DACO)’s office which was crowded by farmers demanding an explanation.
The DACO’s office has however blamed the occurrence on the agro dealers and the farmers themselves.
DACO representative, Philemon Lungu, said his office had tried to educate farmers on the policy guidelines for e-voucher. Mr. Lungu also said some agro dealers were playing a part by giving commissions to the co-operative leaders per card redeemed.
Meanwhile, ZNFU indicates that out of the 27,070 registered farmers under FISP e-voucher 2018, only 23,989 managed to meet the K400 obligation and according the DACO’s office only 18,210 cards had been redeemed so far. Some of the challenges experienced are; agro dealers losing cards and withholding of cards.