The potential of using an input voucher system to integrate the commercial and non-commercial input distribution systems in the Southern African Development Community

Portuguese version:
O Potencial de uso de um Sistema de Cupões de Insumos Agrícolas para Integrar os Sistemas Comerciais e não Comerciais de Distribuição de Insumos na Comunidade de Desenvolvimento da Africa Austral

Smallholder farmers in southern Africa use low purchased-input technologies and as a result, produce low yields and face chronic food insecurity for two to five months of the year. The problems such households face are compounded by natural calamities such as droughts and floods. These households therefore need programs to increase their agricultural productivity and improve their food security. 

To enhance food security at household and national levels, governments in the region often implement programs such as input subsidies on fertilizers and seeds. In times of drought and floods, governments, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and relief agencies also distribute outright relief seed and fertilizer inputs to the smallholder farmers. 

The distributed relief seeds and fertilizer lead to the creation of two parallel markets, one involving the non-commercial or relief market and the other the formal commercial market utilized by private companies. The problem with relief markets is that they crowd out private sector development, which is a serious deterrent to the long-term development of a country. Thus, it is imperative to determine feasible and practical ways of integrating the two distribution channels using a voucherbased system so that the private sector is a major player in all marketing and distribution activities.