Sh43b Agric Drugs Vanish

By Vision Reporter

ABOUT sh43b worth of agricultural chemicals imported by the Government to sell to farmers at subsidised prices have mysteriously disappeared from the Ministry of Agriculture stores.

By Kikonyogo Ngatya ABOUT sh43b worth of agricultural chemicals imported by the Government to sell to farmers at subsidised prices have mysteriously disappeared from the Ministry of Agriculture stores. Sources said the fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides were imported from Europe and other countries in the 1999/2000 financial year. They were valued at US$25m. The Government has liberalised the importation and sale of agro-chemicals. Dr Kisamba Mugerwa, the agriculture minister, said this week, “I have instituted an investigation into the matter.” He added, “A report will be out soon.” Kisamba would not name the investigation committee. Kisamba, however, said he suspected that the chemicals could have found their way to the open market through dubious ministry officials. “These chemicals could have been shipped back to their countries of origin, I do not know,” he said. He added, “They could have been sold in Kikuubo. I do not know but I will know soon.” Uganda uses the least amount of chemicals in farming in sub-Saharan Africa. It has a total of 5 million hectares of land under cultivation every year. A total of 1.5 million units of chemicals is used by farmers annually, according to Constante Bazirake, the Commissioner for Crop Protection. However, officials acknowledge that there is massive smuggling of chemicals into the country. Kisamba lashed out at chemical inspectors in the country and threatened to sack any “lazy agricultural inspectors.” He said, “A mother is spraying chemicals with a baby at the back. No protection for both of them. This is murder. “We are killing people. Then someone poses that he is chemical inspector for what purpose?” he wondered. He said they needed to devise means of labelling chemicals in local languages so that the public is protected from the dangers associated with them. Kisamba said many people who consume fresh vegetable eat dangerous chemicals. Ends

Sh43b Agric Drugs Vanish