KAMPALA – The Minister of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) Vincent B. Ssempijja has said there is an influx in the importation of counterfeit agro-products.
Mr. Ssempijja while addressing the press, this morning said his ministry has come up with measures to reverse the trend and cautioned the public against importing and trading in such products.
According to the Minister, MAAIF is committed to transforming the 68% of Uganda’s population, which is into subsistence farming, into commercial farmers through ensuring food security, increased household incomes and increased exports.
“The ministry is committed to the delivery of this aspiration through its mandate to create an enabling environment in the agriculture sector including the development, delivery of national policies, strategies, plans, regulations, standards, laws and [to] enforce them along the value chains of crops, livestock and fisheries,” said Mr. Ssempijja.
He noted that the ministry faces an escalating influx of counterfeit agro-inputs including pesticides, acaricides, fertilizers, seeds, vaccines among others onto the market by both certified and uncertified suppliers while executing their mandate which is directly affecting the national economy.
“The ministry has consistently undertaken to stop counterfeits in agro-inputs with various interventions and some achievements have been made. In April 2019, counterfeit fertilizers and seeds were ceased by the Agriculture Police with the MAAIF Enforcement Team in Masaka region. Four different types of Fertilizers (NPK, CAN, SSP& DAP) and 83 Metric Tons of expired Seeds were impounded,” he said.
He added that the matter was handed over to the Uganda Police Force and the suspects are awaiting trial. Many other arrests have been conducted around the country in similar circumstances.
In the livestock sector, the minister said that there has been an increase in cases of Tick Resistance and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) however the ministry made arrangements to procure FMD vaccines to reduce the disease incidence and processes were concluded with the best bidder to supply 500,000 Dozes.
He said, “FMD incidences escalated in most parts of the country despite increased vaccination which was followed with strict quarantine. MAAIF [therefore] instituted investigations into the possible causes of the escalation of the disease.”
Mr. Ssempijja added that the preliminary findings allude to counterfeit vaccines and the matter is with the Police.
According to the minister, MAAIF has adopted different actions to curb the influx of counterfeit agro-inputs whereby distribution of the vaccines to the farmers has been stopped with immediate effect and the ministry cold room cordoned off by the Police.
“The Ministry is aware of all livestock farmers that have been victim to this seemingly counterfeit vaccine and will prioritise the delivery of the correct vaccine to these farmers within the next few weeks,” Ssempijja promised.
He further noted that the ministry is developing a traceability system of all the agro-inputs from the factory to the farmer, among other initiatives.
The minister appealed to the general public to join the fight against this vice by referring any suspected counterfeits to the nearest Police Station or The Ministry of Agriculture offices for verification.
“This serves as a strong warning to all those that are involved in or considering their involvement in the supply of counterfeit agro-inputs to desist from the practice as the long arm of the law will catch up with them,” he warned.