FAO in Mozambique

FAO MDG1c sub-programme launches e-voucher scheme in Manica and Maputo provinces

FAO MDG1c beneficiaries with their new electronic vouchers

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has this week marked the launch of its electronic voucher scheme within the framework of its Millennium Development Programme 1c (MDG 1c) Sub-Programme. The official launch of the electronic voucher scheme took place in the District of Sussundenga, Manica Province on November 23, while a corresponding event was held two days later in the country's capital of Maputo.

Participating in the launch in Manica were representative from the Provincial Government of Manica, Ricardo Alberto Modlane, and the Administrator of Sussundenga, Joana Armando Guinda. In Maputo, representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA) of Mozambique, European Union, Bank of Mozambique and World Bank, and various United Nations agencies including the MDG 1c implementing partners World Food Programme (WFP) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) were present, as were various non-governmental organizations and diplomatic and development partners, including the German development bank KfW, the Small Scale Investment Support Office (GAPI), the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The launch of the electronic voucher is a step further in the implementation of the FAO Sub-Programme MDG1c, which aims to increase smallholders' and emerging farmers' access to improved agricultural inputs by providing them with temporary subsidies. It is expected that this will empower beneficiaries of the voucher, as they only pay part of the total amount of the products purchased at agro-dealers involved in the programme.

Opening the event in Maputo, the FAO Country Representative Castro Camarada remarked that the electronic vouchers will introduce greater flexibility for farmers in the process of purchasing inputs, further commenting that "the use of electronic vouchers with passwords will contribute to the improvement of market networks and the distribution of agricultural inputs through the involvement of various agro-dealers." Marcelo Chaquisse, speaking on behalf of MASA, commented that the Ministry is "very positive about the electronic voucher scheme. It is in line with the strategic plan of the Ministry, which is dedicated to increasing the productivity and production of our farmers."

The first of its kind in Mozambique, the electronic voucher will gradually replace the paper voucher scheme, which has been implemented by FAO in the provinces of Manica, Zambézia, Nampula and Sofala for the last two years. The pilot phase of the electronic version is being implemented in four districts of Manica. Smallholders participating in the launch in Sussundenga, some of whom were previous beneficiaries of the paper voucher, were enthusiastic about the upgrade to an electronic format. One such farmer, Eduardo Lino, noticed that he had "a much better crop after using inputs bought with the paper voucher last year" and is hoping that "the increase in input choices with the electronic voucher will improve my production this season".
In his speech at the Maputo event, the Coordinator of the FAO Sub-Programme, Walter de Oliveira, remarked that the electronic voucher is a "financial inclusion tool". He explained that "these electronic vouchers, in addition to adding flexibility to the production decisions of farmers, will improve knowledge regarding electronic money and reduce the lack of familiarity with technology prevalent among smallholders, particularly with e-money services, as indicated by the Bank of Mozambique in its "National Financial Inclusion Strategy 2016-2020".

The overall aim of the Millennium Development Goal 1c Sub-Programme (MDG1c), funded by the European Commission and Government of Mozambique, is to speed up progress towards achieving the first Millennium Development Goal to reduce hunger and to improve food security and nutrition in Mozambique.