E-vouchers for agriculture inputs - Moving agriculture forward in Zimbabwe, with farmers in the driver’s seat
A team from FAO Zimbabwe will be on hand to share their experiences and to unveil newly published guidelines on the use of electronic vouchers for agricultural input distribution. “E-vouchers for agricultural inputs – lessons from Zimbabwe” will take place on March 7 2012 between 11.30 and 13.00 at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy. A brief presentation will be made by staff from FAO Zimbabwe, followed by a Q&A. To follow the presentation or learn more, the event will be live-tweeted via @FAOEmergencies on twitter.com.
Over the past eight years, the humanitarian community in Zimbabwe has been supporting smallholder farmers, mainly through the direct distribution of inputs. Recently, however, positive macro-economic and food security conditions have allowed a move to more market-based and innovative support mechanisms.
During the 2010/11 season, FAO Zimbabwe piloted the use of electronic vouchers for providing agricultural inputs to farmers. Based on FAO’s experience in Zambia and the results of two pilot projects in Zimbabwe, FAO has scaled up the use of vouchers in support of Zimbabwe’s ongoing transition. The electronic vouchers are open, which means farmers can buy the agricultural inputs they want from four broad categories – seeds; fertilizers and lime; agrochemicals; and tools and spare parts for farming equipment.
The use of vouchers promotes farmer-driven and market-friendly recovery and development, as well as supporting the re-establishment of agrodealer networks across the country. It is this type of innovation that can really move agriculture forward in Zimbabwe and beyond.
The “E-vouchers in Zimbabwe: Guidelines for agricultural input distribution” publication outlines how the e-voucher programme in Zimbabwe was carried out, from the identification and selection of technical providers, agrodealers and farmers to the redemption of vouchers and risks. These guidelines, developed by FAO Zimbabwe with the involvement of teams from across departments at FAO, could be a useful tool for replicating electronic voucher programmes in other countries.