Usually in Africa, when a government provides funding and agricultural subsidies it scarcely gets to the local farmers who determine productivity in the country. Most of those funds either gets mismanaged or goes to few farmers who have some level of rapport with top-ranking officials in government. In order to avoid this, there’s a need to adopt innovative and digitalized methods to directly empower farmers in the rural communities. Fortunately, governments now have the opportunity to leverage Financial Technology (FinTech), which can help ensure transparency and accountability. The Zambian government is among those who have realised that and are embracing FinTech to provide for their farmers.
In a smart move to help the Zambian government, Africa’s leading payment brand, Verve International, has signed a partnership agreement with United Bank for Africa (UBA) to deliver cost-effective prepaid cards to farmers under the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture’s Ministry of Agriculture’s Farmers Input Support Program (FISP). As part of the partnership deal, UBA will issue Verve Prepaid cards in the next season of the FISP.
Mike Ogbalu III, the CEO of Verve International, spoke highly of the shared benefits to each stakeholder in the scheme and the ability for this landmark partnership to reduce inefficiency in financing agricultural inputs, improve farmers’ productivity and ultimately eliminate food scarcity. “Partnering with UBA on the FISP program is a huge milestone for us. We are really excited to work with Smart Zambia, UBA and other banks, farmers, agro-dealers and other stakeholders to ensure that the subsidy programme runs efficiently and achieves its objective of boosting food production in Zambia.”
“Food security is very crucial for every nation, as such, deploying Verve’s cost-effective prepaid card solution will help farmers in Zambia access the FISP subsidy quickly, conveniently and without hassle, thereby significantly improving agricultural activities and boosting food production in the country.”
The FISP is an agricultural subsidy initiative of the government to help farmers purchase agricultural inputs like fertilizer, seed and chemical at subsidized costs. Through the program, the government intends to boost food production in the country by funding the cards issued to each farmer with $170 while the farmers contribute $40 towards purchase of farm inputs.
While many farmers in the country have benefited from the program since it started in 2015, the government plans to extend it even further with more than one million farmers expected to receive over two hundred and ninety million dollars ($290M) in funding during the 2017/18 season.
Last year June, the Parliament implemented the FISP through the e-Voucher system at 100 per cent of the targeted farmers in all the 109 districts in the country. In order to help the Government combat the challenges of high cost of card issuance and transaction as well as the issue of accountability and transparency which have plagued the scheme for long, Verve has been contracted to provide its superior technology and affordable cards solution through Commercial Banks and other Financial Institutions in Zambia.
The introduction of Verve cards is expected to reduce card issuance costs by 30%-50% while also saving significantly in transactional fees. With its improved security feature Verve will effectively solve the FISP transparency and accountability issues. The government will also be able to access all the information it needs to ensure a smooth and seamless operation of the scheme and also eliminate leakages.
Besides saving cost and ensuring greater transparency, Verve’s involvement in the FISP program also means more farmers can benefit from the subsidies, as costs would be greatly reduced, thereby leading to a significant boost in food production in the South African country. Through this partnership, Zambia joins a growing list of African countries where Verve’s EMV compliant cards is used and accepted. This also clearly reinforces the payment brand’s market positioning as the preferred Pan‐African card in domestic and cross border transactions in and outside the continent.
Verve has over 35 Million Cards and tokens issued across 8 African countries and growing. In addition to regional acceptance across Africa, Verve cards can also be used outside Africa as it is accepted in over 185 countries across the globe.