9 December 2011, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe has over 1.5 million smallholder farmers. Thanks to recent positive macro-economic and food security conditions, however, Zimbabwe is moving to more innovative, market-based approaches, like the use of electronic vouchers to buy agricultural inputs. To be eligible for the voucher programme - a programme supported by FAO Zimbabwe - farmers must have access to over 0.5 hectares of land. Farmers must also be willing to contribute at least 10 percent of the value of the voucher. Once the electronic voucher is issued, farmers can buy quality agricultural inputs from participating local agrodealers.
The electronic cards feature the farmer's name, national ID number and gender - security measures to ensure that only the intended beneficiary can use the card. The electronic voucher programmes hopes to stimulate growth in the rural economy by supporting the re-establishments of agrodealer networks across Zimbabwe. Agrodealers must provide invoices to farmers as evidence of sale and for record keeping. The vouchers are open, which means that farmers can choose the inputs they need. Thanks to a single client account, agrodealers will receive instant payment for inputs purchased. Helping smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe boost food production and productivity is at the heart of the electronic voucher programme.