Does Shifting to a Flexible E-Voucher Approach Improve Input Subsidy Program Outcomes? Quasi- Experimental Evidence from Zambia's Crop Forecast SurveysDOWNLOAD
January 2, 2020 - Author: Nicole M. Mason, Auckland Kuteya, Hambulo Ngoma, Dagbegnon A. Tossou, and Katharine R. Baylis
Nicole M. Mason, Auckland Kuteya, Hambulo Ngoma, Dagbegnon A. Tossou, and Katharine R. Baylis, 2020. Does Shifting to a Flexible E-Voucher Approach Improve Input Subsidy Program Outcomes? Quasi- Experimental Evidence from Zambia's Crop Forecast Surveys, Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research Paper 165.
The introduction of the e-voucher approach to Zambia’s input subsidy program, the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), was intended, inter alia, to improve farmers’ access to and use of modern inputs; incentivize private sector investment in fertilizer and other input value chains, thereby improving the timely availability of the inputs and bringing them closer to farmers; and encourage farmers to diversify away from maize by allowing them to use the e-voucher for the farm inputs or equipment of their choosing – not just maize seed and fertilizer. This study employs a difference- in-differences approach using Crop Forecast Survey (CFS) data from before and during the 2015/16 and 2016/17 e-FISP pilot years to empirically estimate the contemporaneous effects of the shift to the e-FISP from the traditional FISP on several of these outcomes. The results suggest that the e- FISP fell short of achieving many of its objectives, at least in the short-run and based on the outcomes that could be analyzed using the CFS data. At best, the outcomes analyzed were no different (in a statistically significant way) under the e-FISP and the traditional FISP; at worst, outcomes were worse under the e-FISP. These disappointing e-FISP results are likely due more to implementation challenges and lack of political will than to fundamental flaws in the e-FISP concept and design.