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
Principal Judge lauds plea bargain
THE Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine has commended the judiciary for embracing the process of introducing plea bargain practice directions in criminal justice...
77 couples tie knot at Namugongo mass wedding
THOUSANDS thronged Uganda Martyrs Shrine at Namugongo in Kampala to witness 77 couples exchange vows in a mass wedding...
South Africa
SOUTH Africa's acting High Commissioner to Uganda Wendy Swartz has rendered an "unreserved apology" to the continent for the spate of xenophobic attacks targeting African immigrants...
Govt accused of failing NEMA on kavera ban
Environmentalists have accused Government of frustrating efforts by National Environment Management Authority to ban the use of Kaveera...
Mulago needs testing facility for blood disorders
GOVERNMENT has been asked to set up a testing facility for patients with blood disorder commonly known as haemophilia at Mulago National referral hospital...
Kasese NRM youth storm CFO
DRAMA ensued on Friday when a group of youth stormed the home of the Kasese Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in Kilembe Quarters in Kasese municipality demanding him to contest in 2016...
Should African countries expel South Africans?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter