"Like the Uganda Tourism Board that has automated all their processes, the agriculture ministry should also automate its processes".
Participants during the dialogue at Protea Hotel. Photo by Prossy Nandudu
The agriculture ministry has been asked to create a one-stop-centre and automate the registration of agro-dealers.
The move will reduce time spent clearing agrochemicals, such as fertilizers, reduce transport costs incurred by those interested in the business, who at the moment move from upcountry towns to the agriculture ministry headquarters in Entebbe, to process documents for registration.
That proposal was made by Habib Amin Tibrichu, a consultant from African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP). AFAP is an international non-governmental organisation that looks at soil health and promotion of fertiliser distribution mechanisms and policies in Africa.
Habib was hired to carry out an assessment among agro-dealers on some of the challenges faced in relation to the implementation of the new fertiliser policy and regulations.
From the study, agro-dealers from five regions accused the agriculture ministry of long registration processes, cumbersome acquisition of licenses, long processes of issuance of import permits, bribery during inspections, claims that have been dismissed by the ministry of agriculture.
"Like the Uganda Tourism Board that has automated all their processes, the agriculture ministry should also automate its processes, such as application of certificates of operation, registration, checking which fertilizers have been registered or not," he said.
Delays in processing registration and issuance of permits to agro-dealers in Uganda create room for unregistered and poor quality agro-inputs to find their way into the farming systems.
"When poor quality products get through the system, it translates into a financial loss to both farmers and agro-dealers who are often arrested and products confiscated," Tibrichu said.
The above challenges are made worse by uncoordinated and unregulated inspections that take place towards the festive seasons by different people all claiming to be inspectors from the ministry, he added.
However, a senior agrochemicals inspector from the agriculture minister, Andrew Byamugisha, dismissed the claims, explaining that issuance of permits and certificates is considered on a quarterly basis by the technical committee set up by the Agrochemicals Control Board (ACB).
He added that delays arise when applicants do not have requirements, which include a certificate from a two-week course on the safe use of agro-chemicals and dealership course.
The concerns were raised recently during the second public-private dialogue on the fertiliser sub-sector at Protea Hotel in Kampala. It was organised by AFAP, the agriculture ministry with financial support from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.