The Government has finalized plans to roll out a digital platform that will enable about 200, 000 small-scale farmers, to enlist for the supply of farm inputs at affordable rates.
The national e-voucher program and the Ministry of Agriculture’s digital strategy will be launched on Friday this week by the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya at the Ahero Multipurpose Centre in Kisumu County.
Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga on Tuesday told a virtual press briefing ahead of the launch of the e-voucher digital program, that farmers in 12 selected pilot counties will benefit from the new system which was tailored to improve food production in the country.
He noted that only registered farmers were eligible for the voucher to be issued by respective county governments to facilitate them access seeds, fertilizer, agrochemicals, and insurance from authorized agro-dealers.
Boga said the new approach commonly known as the e-voucher program falls under the National Value Chain Support Program and intends to empower small scale farmers to produce more and facilitate efforts to make the country food secure.
“Under the e-voucher system, farmers will receive a voucher from their respective County Governments to buy farm inputs from the nearest agro-dealers, who will later claim their payments from the government,” he explained.
The PS said the program was part of the government’s digital agenda that was designed to improve the fertilizer subsidy program adding that at least 1.4 million farmers are targeted by the year 2023 and at least 2,300 agro-dealers will be involved in the provision of the farm inputs to the tune of Sh700 million.
He said another point of focus was to unlock the over 500,000 acres of agriculturally productive land that was underutilized and encouraging farmers to invest in an agro-processing venture to improve the value chains.
In 2008, the government started the subsidized fertilizer program to cushion farmers against high prices of fertilizer and also help in improving productivity.
But over the years, unscrupulous traders colluded with officials at the National Cereals and Produce Board by buying the subsidy fertilizer which they repackaged and sold to farmers at a higher price.
The launch comes after the government in November 2018 proposed to use e-vouchers for farmers to buy subsidized fertilizer from private agro-vet shops, to weed out unscrupulous traders who had infiltrated the distribution chain to cash on the bureaucratic process at the time.
Rice farmers from Ahero in Kisumu County and Mwea in Kirinyaga County will be the first beneficiaries of the e-voucher for the coming planting season.