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Graduating gradually from her teens to adulthood until she became a senior citizen, Mbuya Tembo’s hopes of making use of latest technologies faded as the years went by. When HelpAge Zimbabwe, through the PRP program introduced an open electronic voucher system in distributing agricultural inputs and machinery to beneficiaries, Mbuya Tembo’s hopes of making use of technologies associated with the youthful generation came to reality.
Apart from allowing beneficiaries to buy agricultural inputs they specifically need, there is always an underlying ‘feel good factor’ from card holders, most of whom have never used the cards since day 1 on mother earth. A deposit of US$70.00 is made to each card holder. This allows them to buy agricultural inputs of their choice.
The open agricultural electronic voucher system is a pilot project in Zimbabwe that seeks to involve all players in farming business. The retailer or agro dealer in the rural areas will be supplied with necessary agric inputs from a registered supplier and at an agreeable cost and commission. Under this program, the retailer is provided with an opportunity to increase capital and realize extended business opportunities using the point of sale machine as it allows other card holders who not benefitting from the program to make purchases of their choice. Inputs distributed to local retailers are not meant for direct beneficiaries only, other community members who are able to buy using cash will indirectly benefit.
In the past, non governmental organisations would take it upon themselves to purchase required inputs from manufactures and transport straight to the beneficiaries. This meant that the wholesaler and the retailer were kicked out of business. The open agricultural electronic voucher system therefore involves the wholesaler; who is the distributor and the retailer who is the local agro-dealer in the distribution of inputs. Beneficiaries identified by HelpAge Zimbabwe will purchase their inputs from a local shop using swiping cards known as electronic vouchers.
Under this program, HelpAge Zimbabwe is assisting 2150 beneficiaries in 6 wards of Zvishavane rural, 13 rural shops (agro-dealers) are participating while only one wholesaler or distributor is participating.
HAZ, a PRP implementing partner works with and for the older persons in Zimbabwe and the long-term aim of the organization is to improve the overall standard of living and health care for all older persons regardless of race, gender, religion or colour.
HAZ under the PRP is implementing the broad three major areas of Food security, Social protection and Livelihoods in the six wards of Zvishavane District, Midlands Province. The main interventions being implemented include cash transfer, eye care (cataract operations), general agricultural inputs distribution, conservation farming, water, sanitation and hygiene, income generating projects, nutrition gardens, and establishment of Older Persons’ Committees as an advocacy activity.
Article prepared by: Conrad Gweru, Advocacy and Information Officer HelpAge Zimbabwe