THE revelation that some farmers in Katete are selling fertiliser which they redeemed through the electronic voucher (e-voucher) system makes sad reading.
According to the story that we are running in today’s edition, 42 bags of fertiliser were impounded after a tip-off from members of the public about the ungrateful farmers who were selling their inputs after redeeming them.
This development is very unfortunate and we hope that the culprits will be apprehended soon so that they can face the wrath of the law.
It is common knowledge that the Government spends huge sums of money to acquire farm inputs for the farmers, and to think that this effort is going down the drain is very sad.
We are also aware that what has been uncovered in Katete is just a tip of the iceberg, because the theft of inputs has been going on for a long time.
Early last year, Eastern Province Minister Makebi Zulu warned farmers selling subsidised fertiliser and seed provided by the Government under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) that they risked being blacklisted.
Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Julius Shawa was also quoted the same year as having warned of stern action against farmers who were selling subsidised farm inputs under the FISP.
We, therefore, call on the Government to put in place measures that will help in arresting this problem, which threatens the country’s food security before it gets out of hand.
One way of dealing with this issue is for the Government to ensure that all persons that are vying to be beneficiaries of the e-voucher system are screened thoroughly before they qualify to access the farming inputs.
The Government can also use the services of community leaders such as councillors during the screening exercise of the would-be e-voucher beneficiaries because they live with the people in our communities and they know them.
The security wings should continue to be alert and ensure that the practice of selling subsidised inputs is stopped immediately.
We would also like to urge members of the public to continue being vigilant and report anyone they find selling farming inputs supplied by the Government to relevant authorities.