By Scoop Reporter
THE Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) has urged Government to Maintain the E-voucher programme with the target of 1 million beneficiaries but allocate sufficient resources, and ensure timely distribution of inputs.
In its proposals for the 2021 National Budget submitted to the Ministry of Finance Budget Office, the Centre has called for improvement of the system and address the challenges that affected efficient implementation of the programme in 2019/2020 farming season.
It says this will target and capture the right beneficiaries and reduce loss of limited government financial resources adding that the use of the E-Voucher agricultural input programme has high potential to encourage farmers to adopt sustainable agriculture methods and promote agricultural diversification
It says this will lead to easy and timely access to farm inputs, promote agricultural diversification, provision of wider choice of inputs to beneficiaries, and enhance food security in the country.
“Government must extend E-Voucher agricultural input program to agro dealers stocking organic farming inputs and allocate adequate resources for vaccines and other drugs for livestock diseases and further reduce import duty on vaccines and other drugs for livestock diseases.
“This will lead to increased adoption of sustainable agricultural methods by small holder farmers and sustainable agriculture practices form the bulk of climate and weather risk agricultural management practices. Western and Southern provinces are known for Livestock farming but perpetual outbreaks of animal diseases such as CBPP, Food and Mouth Disease without livestock restocking has left many households poor.
And JCTR has proposed an allocation of 10 percent of the total 2021 National Budget to the Agriculture sector in line with Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
It says the agriculture sector is the main livelihood for many rural Zambians and has immense potential for poverty reduction and GDP growth and that allocating 10 percent of the total budget to the sector will ensure agriculture productivity for food and nutrition security
It says this will ensure food and nutrition security, poverty reduction, and employment creation for locals and revenue gains for Government through Pay As You Earn (P.A.Y.E.).