By Prossy Nandudu and Raymond Baguma
Government has set up a department in the agriculture ministry as one of the measures to counter the rampant sale of fake seeds and agro-inputs in the market.
Joseph Bazaale, the commissioner for crop protection in the ministry of agriculture said that the new department of crop inspection and certification will assist in fighting agro-input counterfeits.
Government is also developing and will soon launch a system to label and tag certified seed bags with a tamper-proof seals as another measure to fight counterfeit seeds on the market.
Bazaale said counterfeit seeds and agro-inputs remain a challenge on the local Ugandan market, some of which are imported from neighbouring countries of Kenya, and Tanzania.
Joseph Bazaale(2nd Left), George Bigirwa, Program for Africa’s Seed System (PASS) Associated Director and Fred Muhuku chatting during the 2nd Convening companies in Africa. PHOTO/ Tony Rujuta
He was yesterday speaking on the sidelines of a four-day meeting for representatives from African seed companies that opened at Serena Lake Victoria Hotel.
Over 50 African seed companies are attending a four-day meeting at to share experiences on how to boost production and sale of 10,000 metric tons of improved seed varieties annually.
The bi-annual meeting dubbed the “10 K Seed Company Convening” is organised by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) through the Program for Africa’s Seed Systems (PASS).
AGRA is an international agency working in Africa to help small-scale farmers fight poverty and hunger by boosting agriculture productivity and incomes while protecting the environment.
Director of the Programme for Africa Seed Systems (PASS), Joe DeVries speaking during the 2nd Convening companies in Africa meeting. PHOTO/ Tony Rujuta
Joe DeVries, the director of the PASS programme under AGRA observed that counterfeiters are going to the extent of printing counterfeit bags and selling grain seed that is of no value. He added that AGRA is raising awareness of such criminal practices that need to be controlled.
DeVries noted that there has been remarkable progress in Africa in production of improved seeds such as those for maize, sorghum, millet.
He added that this trend is encouraging African students to pursue graduate courses in plant breeding. As a result, approximately 475 improved high yielding, drought tolerant and quick maturing plant varieties have been released to African farmers.
Dr. David Ameyaw, the AGRA director for strategy said African smallholder farmers need to access improved seed varieties if the continent is to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of food production.
“Seventy percent of African farmers are smallholder, and they produce 80 percent of the food that is eaten, yet for many years they have produced without access to inputs such as improved seeds,” said Ameyaw.
Dr. Ameyaw challenged African seed companies to ensure that smallholder farmers are able to access improved seed varieties in order to boost food production and ensure food security. “Seeds are a critical component of agriculture and will reduce food insecurity,” added Dr. Ameyaw.