National
Govt to start agriculture Police unit
Publish Date: Aug 13, 2014
Govt to start agriculture Police unit
Okaasai Opolot, the Ministry of Agriculture director for crop resources.
  • mail
  • img
newvision

By Francis Kagolo

GOVERNMENT is to form a new Police unit attached to the agriculture sector to combat the problem of counterfeit agro-chemical inputs on the market.

Officers in the unit will be attached to the ministry of agriculture, animal husbandry and fisheries headquarters. Others will work with related agencies like the agricultural research institute (NARO) and fisheries among others.

Okaasai Opolot, the ministry’s director for crop resources, told New Vision that they were in final talks with the ministry of internal affairs to have the Police unit set up in the next four months.

Together with the ministry inspectors and extension workers, Okaasai said the Police unit will crackdown fraudsters dealing in counterfeit seeds and agro-chemicals among other illicit activities in the sector.

Experts partly blame the declining agricultural production in Uganda to counterfeit farm inputs.

“Counterfeit inputs are failing farmers to increase agricultural productivity. Besides, these counterfeits are dangerous to our lives,” said Francis Ekadu, programme coordinator at Transparency International Uganda (TI-U).

Quoting a study done for Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ekadu said African countries lose between $300m and $1b (sh750b – sh2.5 trillion) because of the counterfeit imported fertilisers which are substandard.

The report says fake seeds cost farmers $150m and $500m (sh380b –sh1.3trillion) while over $240m (sh620b) is lost to fake pesticides and drugs.

In Uganda, between 25 and 30% of agro-chemicals on the market are counterfeit and substandard, according to Okaasai.

But Francis Okot of the Integrated Seed Sector Development Programme, a local NGO fighting fake seeds, says the prevalence for fake seeds is as high as 60% in some upcountry areas.

 “If this is not stopped, the entire agricultural sector will be affected and quality suppliers tarnished indefinitely,” Ekadu said, calling upon the Government to fight the problem.

Paul Kyabaggu, the proprietor of Bukoola chemical industries, a local agro-chemical producer, said genuine manufacturers have been let down by the ministry of agriculture.

 “Fraudsters are recycling packing materials for agro-chemicals and water bottles which they fill with water and food colours and then sell to unsuspecting farmers,” Kyabaggu revealed.

“We used to have ministry inspectors coming to check on the products on our shelves. But this stopped and now everything is messed up.”

However, Okaasai is certain the Police unit will start working immediately it is established “because it was budgeted for in this 2014/2015 fiscal year.”

Similar specialised Police units have helped curb illegal activities in environment and tourism sectors among others.

For a fortnight now, New Vision has been carrying out a campaign against fake farm inputs. In one of the investigations, conmen selling maize varieties like Longe 10h and Longe 6H, supposedly coming from certified seed companies when in actual sense they were prepared in someone’s backyard and not certified were discovered.

Consequently, Transparency International has introduced a toll free line (0800280280) for farmers and other whistle-blowers to report traders selling counterfeit inputs.

Uganda’s agricultural productivity fell from 5% in the early 1990s to 2.5% in the early 2000s. Productivity continued to slump to 1.4% last financial year, much below the 2015 target of 5.6% growth envisaged in the sector Development Strategy and Investment Plan (DSIP) 2011-2015.

Related stories

We are not militarizing agriculture - Govt

Govt asked to establish agricultural financing bank

Govt restructures NAADS into directorate

UNAFFE asks govt to revise taxes on farm inputs

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Kenya grieves one year after Westgate mall attack
Thousands of mourners gathered in Kenya''s capital on Sunday for emotional commemorations marking a year since Somali Islamist gunmen attacked Nairobi''s Westgate shopping mall and massacred at least 67 people....
Gen. Wamala honoured in US
The Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. Katumba Wamala, has been inducted on the prestigious Hall of Fame of the United States Army War College, making history in the region....
Mediators urge end to fighting in S. Sudan
East African mediators seeking to broker peace in South Sudan on Saturday denounced ongoing "senseless fighting" between rival sides in a conflict that has ravaged the new country for the past nine months....
UCC asks telecoms to remove roaming charges
UGANDA Communications Commission is asking operators to renegotiate with their partners across Kenya and Rwanda to enable seamless implementation of the One Network Area directive, which removes roaming charges within the three states....
Delayed transactions paralyse Lands
Complaints of the bureaucratic process at the lands ministry are far from over, New Vision has learnt....
Doctor calls for promotion of safe abortion
Every year, about 1,500 girls in Uganda die from complications resulting from unsafe abortion contributing to the slow progress in reducing the over 16 women who die every day...
Should bride price be made optional?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter