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Coalition for Rainforest Nations announces sale of 6,106 REDD credits from Papua New Guinea to Blackstone Energy Services

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On 29 March 2021, REDD-Monitor wrote about a REDD deal that Kevin Conrad, the Executive Director of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, signed with Papua New Guinea. Conrad claims the deal will mark “the very first time that (carbon) credits that have been approved by the UNFCCC are being marketed to an open forum to our consumers”. Conrad’s REDD deal was signed on 17 March 2021.

The Papua New Guinea newspaper, the Post Courier reported Conrad as saying that,

“Once we get everything signed up we are going to do a transaction next week, probably just a small one, about US$10,000, just to show and announce that the system is up, and all consumers need to show a transaction to bring other people in.

“We have a company in Canada called the Blackstone Energy, who will be the first company to buy from PNG and their idea is just to get the game started.”

This is a top down REDD deal, with little or no transparency. No process of free, prior and informed consent was carried out before Conrad signed the REDD deal with Wera Mori, PNG’s Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change, and Ruel Yamuna, Managing Director of the Climate Change Development Authority.

Where the money from the carbon credit sales will end up is far from clear. PNG has not yet produced a REDD benefit sharing agreement.

A two-year-old “new report”

On 30 March 2021, the Coalition for Rainforest Nations put out a press release under the headline, “Papua New Guinea Slows Rainforest Deforestation after a Decade, According to New UNFCCC Report”.

The “New UNFCCC Report” is a report published by Papua New Guinea’s Climate Change and Development Authority and submitted to the UNFCCC.

The Climate Change and Development Authority’s report is Papua New Guinea’s First Biennial Update Report to the UNFCCC. It is dated December 2018.

The Biennial Update Report states that PNG achieved REDD+ results in 2014 and 2015 of 9,003,314 tCO2e. But in both 2014 and 2015, PNG emitted almost 40 million tCO2e from deforestation and forest degradation. The country can only claim REDD+ results because PNG, with the help of the FAO, created a Forest Reference Level that increases every year. As long as PNG’s forest destruction remains under the Forest Reference Level, PNG can continue to destroy its forests and claim millions of carbon credits from “REDD+ results”.

Meanwhile, of course, governments have not yet completed negotiations at the UNFCCC on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Article 6 involves the rules about creating a new carbon trading mechanism.

On 9 April 2021, REDD-Monitor received the following message from Mark Grundy of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations:

Subject: [REDD-Monitor] Contact
Name: Mark Grundy
Email: mark@cfrn.org
Website: https://redd-monitor.org/
Comment: Dear Chris,

Please correct your article about Blackstone’s purchase of nationally-issued REDD+ forestry carbon credits. The transaction was for 6,100 credits

You can view the deal on CFRN.org

Best
Mark

Sure enough, a Coalition for Rainforest Nations press release dated 8 April 2021 announces that Blackstone Energy Services has bought 6,106 carbon credits from Papua New Guinea.

Here are the Coalition for Rainforest Nations’ two recent press releases (neither of which mentions the ongoing negotiations about Article 6 of the Paris Agreement):

News: Papua New Guinea Slows Rainforest Deforestation after a Decade, According to New UNFCCC Report

Nine million UNFCCC-verified, forestry carbon credits issued for sale by sovereign government.

March 30, 2021, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s rainforest conservation efforts successfully slowed the pace of deforestation in 2014-2015, after bringing annual deforestation levels down to an annual average of 0.5% over a thirteen-year period, according to a report published by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As a result of these efforts, UNFCCC verified 9 million metric tonnes (mt) of carbon reductions for this period. The results were posted on UNFCCC REDD+ Information Hub along with four other prerequisites to UNFCCC REDD+ verification:

  • National REDD+ Strategy
  • National Forest Reference Level
  • National Forest Monitoring System
  • Safeguards Information Summary.

Highlights:

  • Deforestation: Between 2000-2013, Papua New Guinea saw an average loss of 0.5% of its national rainforest annually or 197,000 hectares of forest. The highest annual deforestation figures came in 2013 with a loss of 39,676 hectares. Loss was primarily due to conversion of forests to croplands for both non-commercial agricultural needs of its population (63%) as well as commercial agriculture (30%).
  • Degradation of remaining rainforests, primarily for commercial logging was also a major concern. Peaking in 2012 with 240,000 hectares, government action led to steadily declining degradation from 2013 onwards. 2014 and 2015 showed a marked decline in deforestation in both drivers.
  • Reforestation and forest rehabilitation activities: Conversely, efforts to enhance forest cover through reforestation and forest rehabilitation activities were limited, despite ambitious goals set out within Papua New Guinea’s Vision 2050 to establish 800,000 hectares of forest plantation by the middle of this century.

“These results are a testament to over two decades of national action and leadership – and are a fitting and timely tribute to the late Sir Michael Somare who pioneered global rainforest conservation. The data from 2014-2015 clearly show that Papua New Guinea has now turned a corner in our battle to stop deforestation,” said, Ruel Yamuna, Managing Director of the Climate Change and Development Authority.

Papua New Guinea’s 9 million mt of carbon reductions will become the first nationally issued REDD+ forestry carbon credits to go on sale to corporations and consumers. This comes after a decade of international negotiation to establish Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+) as a global conservation mechanism under the Paris Agreement on climate change – which was achieved in 2015.

The REDD+ mechanism, the brainchild of late Sir Grand Chief Michael Somare – founding father of Papua New Guinea, was started by Papua New Guinea and the Coalition for Rainforest Nations in 2005 under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The government of Papua New Guinea intends to set up a national biodiversity and climate change trust fund to manage and distribute the wealth accumulated from the revenues of nationally issued REDD+ forest carbon credits and other grants and donations. This will be announced in PNG Parliament in April.

A signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) took place on Wednesday March 17 in Port Moresby between the government of Papua New Guinea and REDD.plus to permit the sale of the forest carbon credits. Wera Mori, Minister of the Environment, Conservation & Climate Change and Kevin Conrad, Chief Executive of REDD.plus signed the agreement.

“Today’s agreement constitutes a significant milestone for the REDD+ story and for Papua New Guinea. People and companies will be able to purchase forest carbon credits that reward a country’s successful conservation efforts as well as count towards the Paris Agreement and the global carbon budget,” said Kevin Conrad, Executive Director, Coalition for Rainforest Nations. “Buying nationally issued REDD+ forest carbon credits is a powerful way to support global efforts to tackle the climate emergency.”

While Papua New Guinea’s nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement in which targets for emissions reductions in the land use and forest sector have not been identified beyond 2015, mitigation actions from its national policies, Vision 2050 and the Medium-Term Development Strategy 2030 have been set out.

Papua New Guinea’s nationally issued REDD+ forestry carbon credits were made available for purchase today on REDD.plus registry – provided by IHS Markit and trading platform by CBL. REDD.plus is currently managed by not-for-profit, Coalition for Rainforest Nations.

About

Climate Change and Development Authority, Independent State of Papua New Guinea

The Climate Change Development Authority is mandated under the Climate Change (Management) Act 2015 with the responsibility to contribute toward global efforts in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, through low carbon development that fosters economic growth and social welfare for the people’s wellbeing and prosperity. It is based in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Learn more at PNG REDD+

Coalition for Rainforest Nations

The Coalition for Rainforest Nations is US 401c3 not-for-profit established by forested tropical countries to collaboratively reconcile forest stewardship with economic development. Its assists tropical governments, communities and peoples responsibly manage their rainforests. It is the architect of the REDD+ mechanism and is headquartered in New York.

REDD.plus

REDD.plus is the first digital platform enabling carbon neutrality under the Paris Agreement, and provided by IHS Markit and trading platform by CBL. It is a central registry and exchange for nationally issued carbon reductions or REDD+ Results Units from rainforest nations, certified by the United Nations. REDD.plus is owned and managed by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations.

 

News: Blackstone Energy Services Buys First Sovereign Government Issued REDD+ Forestry Carbon Credits to Save Papua New Guinea’s Rainforests

Toronto, Canada, April 8, 2021, 07.00pm

Blackstone Energy Services, Canada’s leading energy services company made the first commercial purchase of UNFCCC-verified, REDD+ forestry carbon credits or REDD+ Results Units (RRUs), issued by the sovereign government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) today. Blackstone’s pilot purchase of 6,106 metric tonnes of forestry carbon credits is intended to both offset its historical carbon footprint back to 2003, and its estimated emissions up until to and including 2030. Beyond this pilot purchase, Blackstone plans to offer sovereign government issued carbon credits from rainforest nations to its portfolio of North American clients with a collective annual energy spend over US$2.5 billion.

“The sale sets a precedent for corporations wishing to achieve net-zero targets from carbon reductions directly linked to country efforts under the Paris Agreement and the global carbon budget,” says Ryan Duffy, Chief Executive Officer, Blackstone Energy Services. “The fact that these carbon credits represent UNFCCC-verified emissions reductions from national conservation efforts which have happened– and not future promises – is important to us and our clients.”

Blackstone bought carbon reductions created by PNG’s tropical rainforests from a two-year period of impact. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) verified that Papua New Guinea’s government, its agencies and local communities had successfully slowed the pace of deforestation across its 113.8 million acres (about the area of California) of rainforests. The credits came from a tranche of 9,003,314 metric tonnes of carbon emissions reductions issued by the sovereign government two weeks ago. To achieve these results, the government introduced a series of domestic initiatives and policies over a 15-year period, and also satisfied the UNFCCC verification process by submitting: a national conservation (REDD+) strategy, a national online forest monitoring system, forest reference levels, and other safeguards.

With Papua New Guinea being the current Coalition for Rainforest Nations Chair, Honorable Wera Mori, Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change, was pleased to witness the first commercial transaction of nationally issued REDD+ credits and thanked Blackstone Energy Services for taking the lead as a responsible corporate citizen:

“The world is currently facing a climate emergency and PNG is mitigating the effects of climate change through rainforests and REDD+. This is also captured in PNG’s revised National Determined Contributions that was submitted last year to the UNFCCC, including the National Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 13 Climate Action Roadmap (2020 – 2030),” says Minister Mori.

Unlike project-based REDD+ carbon credits, which have been available on the voluntary carbon markets for over a decade, Blackstone’s purchase marks the first commercial transaction of nationally issued REDD+ credits or REDD+ Results Units. The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) Mechanism, the brainchild of late Sir Grand Chief Michael Somare – founding father of Papua New Guinea, was started with the Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN) in 2005 under the UNFCCC. It took a decade of international and domestic climate policy work as well as in-country capacity building and technical training to forestry commission teams across the world before the first carbon credits could become available today.

“This is a healthy milestone for the UNFCCC REDD+ mechanism. Both Blackstone’s purchase today and others in the pipeline offer encouraging early signs of corporate demand for this new carbon credit. We expect to see REDD+ Results Units playing a platinum role within both the compliance markets and as an Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcome (ITMOs), qualifying for international transfer of carbon reductions for countries under the Paris Agreement,” says Kevin Conrad, Executive Director, Coalition for Rainforest Nations.

Papua New Guinea’s REDD+ results were reported in a technical annex on REDD+ results to the biennial update reports and underwent technical analysis by UNFCCC. To view these reports and all UNFCCC requirements and safeguards, see Lima REDD+ Information Hub. Papua New Guinea’s REDD+ Results Units (RRUs) are available on REDD.plus platform, provided by Markit and trading platform by CBL. The government of Papua New Guinea intends to set up a national biodiversity and climate change trust fund to manage and distribute the funds accumulated from the revenues of nationally issued REDD+ forestry carbon credits and other grants and donations. This will be announced in PNG Parliament this month.

Blackstone Energy Services

Blackstone is an independent energy management firm that delivers purposeful change for clients by guiding large private and public-sector businesses on their journey to net-zero consumption. Their custom energy management solutions cover cost, consumption, and carbon improvements. With a client portfolio representing over 1 million tonnes of CO2e each year for scope 1 and 2 emissions, it is their vision to take all their clients to net zero by 2050. Blackstone is based in Toronto, Canada.

Contact: Darlene Remlinger, VP Communications: dremlinger@blackstoneenergy.com
Tel. 416-628-2828 ext. 101

Climate Change and Development Authority, Independent State of Papua New Guinea

The Papua New Guinea Climate Change Development Authority is mandated under the Climate Change (Management) Act 2015 with the responsibility to contribute toward global efforts in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions through low carbon development that fosters economic growth and social welfare for the people’s wellbeing and prosperity. It is based in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Learn more at PNG REDD+

Contact Mr. Ruel Yamuna, Managing Director: ryamuna959@gmail.com

Coalition for Rainforest Nations

The Coalition for Rainforest Nations is a US 401c3 not-for-profit established by forested tropical countries to collaboratively reconcile forest stewardship with economic development. Its assists tropical governments, communities, and peoples to responsibly manage their rainforests. It is the co-architect of the UNFCCC REDD+ mechanism and is headquartered in New York. REDD.plus is owned and managed by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations. It is the first digital platform enabling carbon neutrality under the Paris Agreement, and provided by Markit and trading platform by CBL. It is a central registry and exchange for nationally issued carbon reductions or REDD+ Results Units from rainforest nations, verified by the UNFCCC. REDD.plus is owned and managed by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations.

Original Source: REDD-Monitor

 

Special Reports And Projects

Farmland values hit record highs, pricing out farmers

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Joel Gindo thought he could finally own and operate the farm of his dreams when a neighbor put up 160 acres of cropland for sale in Brookings County, S.D., two years ago. Five thousand or six thousand dollars an acre should do the trick, Mr. Gindo estimated.
But at auction, Mr. Gindo watched helplessly as the price continued to climb until it hit $11,000 an acre, double what he had budgeted for.
“I just couldn’t compete with how much people are paying, with people paying 10 grand,” he said. “And for someone like me who doesn’t have an inheritance somewhere sitting around, a lump sum of money sitting around, everything has to be financed.”
What is happening in South Dakota is playing out in farming communities across the nation as the value of farmland soars, hitting record highs this year and often pricing out small or beginning farmers. In the state, farmland values surged by 18.7 percent from 2021 to 2022, one of the highest increases in the country, according to the most recent figures from the Agriculture Department. Nationwide, values increased by 12.4 percent and reached $3,800 an acre, the highest on record since 1970, with cropland at $5,050 an acre and pastureland at $1,650 an acre.
A series of economic forces — high prices for commodity crops like corn, soybeans and wheat; a robust housing market; low interest rates until recently; and an abundance of government subsidies — have converged to create a “perfect storm” for farmland values, said Jason Henderson, a dean at the College of Agriculture at Purdue University and a former official at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
As a result, small farmers like Mr. Gindo are now going up against deep-pocketed investors, including private equity firms and real estate developers, prompting some experts to warn of far-reaching consequences for the farming sector.
Young farmers named finding affordable land for purchase the top challenge in 2022 in a September survey by the National Young Farmers Coalition, a nonprofit group.
Already, the supply of land is limited. About 40 percent of farmland in the United States is rented, most of it owned by landlords who are not actively involved in farming. And the amount of land available for purchase is extremely scant, with less than 1 percent of farmland sold on the open market annually.
The booming housing market, among a number of factors, has bolstered the value of farmland, particularly in areas close to growing city centers.
“What we have seen over the past year or two was, when housing starts to go up with new building construction, that puts pressure on farmland, especially on those urban fringes,” Professor Henderson explained. “And that leads to a cascading ripple effect into land values even farther and farther away.”
Government subsidies to farmers have also soared in recent years, amounting to nearly 39 percent of net farm income in 2020. On top of traditional programs like crop insurance payments, the Agriculture Department distributed $23 billion to farmers hurt by President Donald J. Trump’s trade war from 2018 to 2020 and $45.3 billion in pandemic-related assistance in 2020 and 2021. (The government’s contribution to farm income decreased to 20 percent in 2021 and is forecast to be about 8 percent in 2022.)
Those payments, or even the very promise of additional assistance, increase farmland values as they create a safety net and signal that agricultural land is a safe bet, research shows.
“There’s an expectation in the market that the government’s going to play a role when farm incomes drop, so that definitely affects investment behavior,” said Jennifer Ifft, a professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University.
Eager investors are increasingly turning to farmland in the face of volatility in the stock and real estate markets. Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and a billionaire, is the biggest private farmland owner in the country and recently won approval to buy 2,100 acres in North Dakota for $13.5 million.
The number of private equity funds seeking to buy stakes in farmland has ticked higher, said Tim Koch, a vice president at an agricultural financial cooperative in the Midwest, Farm Credit Services of America. Pension funds also consider farmland a stable investment, Professor Ifft said.
Farmers, too, have witnessed an influx of outside interest. Nathaniel Bankhead, who runs a farm and garden consulting business in Chattanooga, Tenn., has banded with a group of other agricultural workers to save up to $500,000 to buy about 60 acres of land. For months, the collective has been repeatedly outbid by real estate developers, investors looking to diversify their portfolios and urban transplants with “delusional agrarian dreams,” he said.
“Places that I have looked at as potential farmland are being bought up in cash before I can even go through the process that a working-class person has to do to access land,” he said. “And the ironic thing is, those are my clients, like I get hired by them to do as a hobby what I’m trying to do as a livelihood. So it’s tough to watch.”
Mr. Bankhead characterized the current landscape as a form of “digital feudalism” for aspiring working farmers. Wealthy landowners drive up land prices, contract with agricultural designers like himself to enact their vision and then hire a caretaker to work the land — pricing out those very employees from becoming owners themselves.
“They kind of lock that person to this new flavor of serfdom where it’s, you might be decently paid, you’ve got access to it, but it will never be yours,” he said.
Unable to afford land in her native Florida, Tasha Trujillo recently moved her flower farm to South Carolina. Ms. Trujillo had grown cut flowers and kept bees on a parcel of her brother-in-law’s five-acre plant nursery in Redland, a historically agricultural region in the Miami area, about 20 miles south of downtown.
When she sought to expand her farm and buy her own land, she quickly found that prices were out of reach, with real estate developers driving up land values and pushing out agriculture producers.
A five-acre property in the Redlands now costs $500,000 to $700,000, Ms. Trujillo said. “So I essentially didn’t have a choice but to leave Miami and Florida as a whole.”
“Farming is a very stressful profession,” she added. “When you throw in land insecurity, it makes it 20 times worse. So there were many, many times where I thought: ‘Oh my God. I’m not going to be able to do this. This isn’t feasible.’”
As small and beginning farmers are shut out — the latest agricultural census said that the average age of farmers inched up to 57.5 — the prohibitively high land values may have ripple effects on the sector at large.
Brian Philpot, the chief executive of AgAmerica, an agricultural lending institution, said his firm’s average loan size had increased as farms consolidated, squeezing out family farms. This, he argued, could lead to a farm crisis.
“Do we have the skills and the next generation of people to farm it? And two, if the answer is going to be, we’re going to have passive owners own this land and lease it out, is that very sustainable?” he said.
Professor Henderson also warned that current farmers may face increased financial risk as they seek to leverage their high farmland values, essentially betting the farm to expand it.
“They’ll buy more land but they’ll use debt to do it,” he said. “They’ll stretch themselves out.”
Economists and lenders said farmland values appeared to have plateaued in recent months, as the Federal Reserve raised interest rates and the cost of fertilizer and diesel soared. But with high commodity prices forecast for next year, some believe values will remain high.
A native of Tanzania who moved to South Dakota about a decade ago, Mr. Gindo bought seven acres of land to raise livestock in 2019 and currently rents an additional 40 acres to grow corn and soybeans — all the while working full time as a comptroller to make ends meet.
For now, he has cooled off his search for a farm of his own even as he dreams of passing on that land to his son. The more immediate concern, he said, was whether his landlord would raise his rent. So far, the landlord has refrained because Mr. Gindo helps him out around the farm.
“He really doesn’t have to lend me his land,” Mr. Gindo said. “He can make double that with someone else.”
In Florida, Ms. Trujillo said, the owner of the land where her brother-in-law’s nursery sits has spoken of selling the plot while prices remain high, so he too has begun looking for his own property.
“That’s a big fear for a lot of these farmers and nursery owners who are renting land, because you just never know when the owner’s just going to say: ‘You know what? This year, I’m selling and you’ve got to go,’” she said.
In Tennessee, Mr. Bankhead said he considered giving up on owning a farm “multiple times a day” as friends who have been longtime farmers leave the profession.
But so far, he remains committed to staying in the field and doing “the work of trying to keep land in families’ hands and showing there’s more to do with this land than to sell it to real estate developers,” he said. “But the pain of not having my own garden and not being able to have my animals where I live, it never stings any less.”
Original Source: Farmlandgrab

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Anti-tick vaccine drive gives hope to farmers

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Dairy farmers in Ankole Sub-region are optimistic that the anti-tick vaccine launched by the government will solve their problem of tick resistance to acaricides.
For the last 10 years, dairy farmers across the country have decried tick resistance to acaricides, which has been ravaging the livestock sector.

Mr Emmanuel Kyeishe, a resident of Rushere in Kiruhura District and dairy farmer with more than 100 head of cattle, says dairy farmers in the cattle corridor have battled the problem of tick resistance for a long time.
“The issue of ticks has been rampant in the cattle corridor to the extent of losing our cows. We spend a lot on treating them because of ticks since they infect animals with several diseases,”  he said.

Mr Kyeishe said he loses at least two cows every month to tick-borne diseases like East Coast Fever and heart water.
“I have lost 180 cows in the last five years due to ticks and tick-borne diseases. If they do not die, they get blind and some lose their skin. But if we get a vaccine, it will have saved us a lot,” he said.
Mr Kyeishe added that he has resorted to mixing agrochemicals with acaricides since the available ones on the market are failing.

Mr Jackson Bells Katongole, a dairy farmer in Kashari, Mbarara District, said if the government’s move to have anti-tick vaccine is successful, quality of dairy products would improve.
“A farmer loses at least two to five cows every month and we have resorted to using different concoctions from Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya because the problem of ticks has made us helpless,” he said.
He added: “We had reached the point of mixing pesticides with acaricides because of tick resistance and in the process our cows have gone blind, lost skin and others died.”

Mr Katongole further said each cow that dies is valued at around Shs2.5 million, which means that a farmer loses Shs5 million every month.
The Mbarara City Veterinary Officer, Dr Andrew Akashaba, said in Mbarara alone, there are about 60,000 head of cattle, mostly exotic breeds which are prone to ticks.
“Most of the exotic breeds of cattle are at a high risk of acquiring ticks and tick borne diseases, which are a major hindrance to livestock development in the cattle corridor,” he said.
Mr Akashaba added that between 2,000 and 3,000 cows die annually in Mbarara alone due to tick-related diseases.

While launching the final clinical trial of anti-tick vaccine manufactured by National Agriculture Research Organisation at Mbarara Zardi on Thursday, the deputy director general and research coordinator, Dr Yona Baguma, assured the farmers that once the vaccine is approved, they will be spraying their cattle against ticks twice in six months as opposed to twice a week.

Original source: Monitor

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Farmers fail to access farm inputs on Ministry e-platform

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About 3,640 model farmers in Nebbi District, who were registered under the Agricultural Cluster Development Programme (ACDP) to access agricultural inputs on E-voucher, are stuck after failure of the system.

The farmers say the system has affected their planting patterns.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry under the Agriculture cluster Development Programme (ACDP) introduced the e-voucher system five years ago to enable farmers access agricultural inputs electronically.

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