Farmers selling illicit pesticides face jail

Saturday May 08 2021
farm002 pix

Plant agronomist, Livingstone Bananuka (middle), inspects some of the company’s agro input products as they are being packaged for distribution. Photo/Michael Kakumirizi

By Shabibah Nakirigya

Recently, agrochemical giants- Bukoola Chemical Industries Limited and the Anti- Counterfeit Network (ACN) unveiled a 90-day sensitisation campaign dubbed “Protect Life…Twefeeko.”  The campaign aimed at equipping farmers, stockists and consumers with information about how to spot fake agrochemical products on the market with the hope of stomping the vice out of the country.

Fight against fake agrochemicals  
During the launch of the campaignheld at the Bukoola Chemical Industries Kampala Offices on Kafumbe Mukasa Road, the Director of the Anti-Counterfeit Network, Fred Muwema noted that the network would commence legal enforcement measures to prosecute culprits those who engage in counterfeiting of chemicals after expiry of a 90 days’ grace period which began on April 22.

Addressing the media at the plant, Dr Peter Kyabaggu called upon other industry players to join the campaign saying: “We are working with the police and also the legal entity, Anti Counterfeit Network as champions of the fight against fake agrochemical products because this vice deeply affects us as a company. 

They also affect the farmers who end up making losses because of using substandard agrochemicals and the end-consumer whose health is also affected by eating foods covered in substandard chemicals which might have lasting impacts on their health. We welcome all other industry players to join us in this campaign because it benefits us all and cannot wait any longer.”
Solomon Seruwo, the marketing and business development manager at Bukoola Chemical Industries Ltd, noted that the campaign tagline “Buy original” is strategic in that it speaks to everyone involved in the purchase process of agrochemical products. 

“If a farmer is getting pesticides from a shop, he is buying. A shop keeper will also buy from a retailer or wholesaler who will also buy from a manufacturing or production company, so the most important point of contact is the purchase point. All those involved have to ensure they buy from a genuine seller or distributor to ensure they have quality products. Where one encounters a fake product, they should immediately report to the authorities for prosecution,” Seruwo says. 
Survey on fake pesticides 
He further added that farmers need to watch out for fake pesticides among other categories of agricultural input to avoid making losses. 

Different statistics from various reports and surveys indicate that counterfeits account for 30-40 per cent of all agricultural inputs on the market. 
They are in different categories of agricultural inputs and these include seed, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and a number of other uncategorised items. It is observed that most counterfeit is in seed followed by fertiliser but when it comes to pesticides, herbicides are the most affected so farmers need to watch out when buying products within those categories. 


Effects of fake agrochemical products 
According to Seruwo, buying a counterfeit product for a farmer means loss of investment because a counterfeit will never deliver results. Apart from that, counterfeits come from unknown sources and therefore the contents within are unknown. 

Some cancers have been linked to some of these counterfeits because of incidences of heavy metal prevailing in uncontrolled items. Some reports have indicated that counterfeit products on the market come with human urine which might come from someone infected with UTI or any other infection and this has direct impact on the consumers, especially some of us who enjoy fresh salads. Away from effects on the human body, they also affect the environment and all those involved in the value chain.

Other players
Crop Life Uganda, a global federation for  research science that gets agrochemical products on the market and the association for national level dealers; importers, distributors and manufactured of quality agro products, has been in the fight against fake agrochemical products dating back 10 years.

Criminals found guilty in the courts of law of selling fake agro chemical inputs may be sentenced to two years in prison or pay a fine of 40 currency points which are unlikely to deter anyone from selling fake agro inputs. 
Efforts are underway to review the regulations, taking into consideration the East African Harmonised Pesticides Management Guidelines. 
Calls have also been made to the government to increase funding for the Ministry of Agriculture to support its monitoring and prosecution of culprits.

Counterfeits come from unknown sources and therefore the contents within are unknown. Some cancers have been linked to some of these counterfeits because of the incidences of heavy metal prevailing in uncontrolled items.