Supporting an agricultural e-voucher scheme in Zambia
Small-size farms are the main source of livelihoods for about 70% of Zambia’s population. The productivity of these farms is generally low, threatening household income and food security. Starting in 2002, the government-run Farmer Input Support Program (FISP) has given the country’s smallholder farmers access to improved inputs such as inorganic fertilisers and seeds. However, due to its overly rigid, top-down design and narrow focus, the programme’s impact on productivity and, thus, rural poverty remained minimal.
Encouraged by local institutions such as the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (www.iapri.org.zm), the government changed the programme’s delivery mode by introducing electronic vouchers and launched a pilot in 2015. The revamped E-FISP programme offers a more diversified range of products and gives farmers much more flexibility to acquire those inputs that best meet their actual needs based on local conditions. All inputs are insured through a weather index insurance programme designed by local insurance partners. Swiss Re has supported E-FISP by offering pricing and reinsurance capacity.
E-FISP has now been rolled out to the whole country. Regarding its insurance element, we have recently started to engage with the Zambian government on potential areas that need improvements, including product design, distribution and stakeholder engagement.