State introduces e-voucher system to weed out farm input cartels
INITIATIVE: Small-scale farmers will procure inputs from private agro-dealers at subsidised rates, thanks to an electronic voucher subsidy plan launched by the government to tame thefts and corrupt activities that tainted the previous process.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the initiative will help end unethical business behaviour by cartels that have been controlling the fertiliser subsidy programme.
He said key challenges to traditional farm input programme has been leakage of approximately one-third of subsidised fertiliser to non-target farmers.
“Cartels purchase subsidised fertiliser in bulk and sell it at market rates, thus depriving small-scale farmers of the intended benefits,” Munya said while launching the new digital system at Ahero in Kisumu County.
Timothy Njagi, a senior research fellow at Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development, Egerton University opined that the programme if well implemented and shielded against intrusions such as politics, can contribute greatly to food production in the country.
“The traditional subsidy programme was abused because it was largely public.
The engagement of the private sector will restore sanity in the distribution of the farm inputs and thus will benefit more,” he added.
Government, Njagi said has allocated Sh3 billion for the farm input subsidy in the current financial year.
As part of efforts to operationalise the government agricultural digital strategic roadmap and the National Value Chain Support (NVSP) e-voucher programme, Munya said the programme seeks to enable growers access a wide range of inputs – insurance, seeds, crop protection, fertiliser and equipment.
The e-voucher system, a departure of the highly abused 12-year-old fertiliser subsidy programme has been expanded to cover more value chains – maize, rice, coffee and Irish potatoes.
Munya said the plan is being piloted in 12 selected food basket counties and 24 wards.