The government has revised the Agricultural Voucher System to allow dealers to appoint agents who will be charged with overseeing the distribution of input vouchers to farmers. Currently, the agents are selected by Farm Input Committees in districts.
Presenting a government statement in Parliament yesterday, Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives minister Christopher Chiza said the move was aimed at eliminating complaints over the current voucher system.
The complaints were leveled at some unscrupulous businessmen and dishonest public officials who tampered with the system to steal farmers’ money.
He said that agro-dealers would be responsible for ensuring that subsidised farm inputs reach farmers in their respective areas on time and certify that only genuine inputs are distributed to farmers.
Chiza said the new system becomes effective in the current [2012/13] financial year, expressing optimism that changes would help in addressing challenges faced in the 2011/12 financial year.
He said: “Earlier, it was suggested that we should come up with an e-voucher system as a solution to vouchers’ theft scandal. But, later on it was discovered that the e-voucher system wasn’t well researched; hence, we decided that we shouldn’t rush into it.”
Chiza said during the 2012/13 farming season, the government would continue to use the same paper-printed vouchers, as it prepares to migrate to an e-voucher system come the 2013/14 financial year.
He also revealed that by 2013/14, the government would start issuing subsidised farm inputs in form of loans to farmers’ groups. “In making this possible, farmers will be fully involved in almost every stage,” he stressed.
The minister stated that in the next farming season, the government would issue subsidised inputs, like improved seeds of rice and maize, as well as fertilisers for planting and growing crops. He said due to the fact that DAP fertiliser is sold at a high price, the government would distribute to farmers improved Minjingu fertiliser (NPS+) to be used by farmers for planting.
“The recommended price will be 32,000/- per 50-kilogram bag, hence two bags of Minjingu fertiliser for one acre will be sold at 64,000/- compared to a 50-kilogram DAP bag, which is old at a price of between 90,000/- and 110,000/-,” he said. The minister told the House that the decision to change the system was meant to protect industries using materials sourced locally as well as reducing the use of foreign currency in importing fertiliser. “This will also increase government revenues and job opportunities for Tanzanians,” noted Chiza.
According to the minister regions benefitting from the system are Iringa, Mbeya, Rukwa, Ruvuma, Katavi, Kigoma, Kagera, Geita, Mwanza, Shinyanga, Mara, Arusha, Manyara, Kilimanjaro, Tanga, Coast, Tabora, Dodoma, Singida, Mtwara, Njombe and Lindi.
He also said that subsidised farm inputs will be provided to sorghum and sun-flower farmers, explaining that the government has allocated 5.1bn/- to accomplish the mission in the 2012/13 farming season.
Tea and coffee seedlings have also been considered in the subsidy scheme.
Chiza said that over 416m/- has been allocated for subsidising pesticides for cotton growers.