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13.8 Billion Uganda shillings lost annually to fake agro chemicals in Uganda - A threat to food security

Bruce Kisitu's picture


During an Agro dealer training session organized by IFDC/Croplife Uganda, it was revealed by an Inspector in the Crop protection department Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries MAAIF, that counterfeits in the agro chemical business account for 15 – 20% (possibly more or even double) market share translating into $6m (13,800,000,000/=). This means that annually, thirteen billion eight hundred million Uganda shillings is lost to unscrupulous traders involved in counterfeits. Critically analyzed, it means that the health of millions of consumers and farmers is endangered.

This level of counterfeiting does not only damage the economic reputation of the agro chemical industry, but also grossly affects food security in the country/region.

During one of the training sessions, it was very difficult for representatives of the importers to differentiate a genuine and counterfeit product. Some Agro dealers intimated to the facilitators how they thrive in counterfeiting.

It is worth noting that small holder farmers cannot afford the high prices of some agro chemicals especially those with household names. It was revealed that the most expensive chemicals are counterfeited most. For instance it was reported that a number of farmers in Mityana and Mubende ask for chemicals just enough for one pump. The agro dealer then has no option but to open say a one litre container and measure 150mls for the farmer. But agro dealers have a tendency of diluting the opened containers with other substances/liquids.

In addition, some agro dealers persuade farmers who buy genuine chemicals or containers with genuine labels to return the containers to the shop and get paid in return. And because farmers need that little money, many of them take back these containers after use. These containers are then filled with different substances and sold to farmers as genuine brands.

It was also revealed that some farmers visit shops and ask for chemicals with a label similar to the empty container they are holding. Because agro dealers know that farmers cannot afford the high price, they fill the gap by sticking labels of genuine products on other fair priced brands and sell at lower prices than authentic products.

IFDC in collaboration with Croplife Uganda, Croplife Middle East Africa and other partners in Uganda are piloting ways of reducing counterfeits through use of the mobile authentication service (MAS). During the 10 months pilot, three products Roundup, Dursban and Mamba will be stuck with a scratch panel bearing a 12 digit code. Farmers will be sensitized on authenticating the product before they take it. How? They will scratch and send the code to a short code 6799 and receive confirmation whether the product is fake or genuine.   



Emmanuel Ngolobe's picture

Thanks to the MAS strategy. However we need also to have a collective voice as collegues in the jouney of transforming agricultural production in the country.This will help us advocate for reforms in the weak agricultural policies and the way they are implemented.Its of interest that alongside MAS we work as a team to speerhead agricultural policy refoms

Bruce Kisitu's picture

Thank you Emmanuel for the comment. I suggest you begin the journey that advocates for policy reforms. We are ready to support you through the different channels. Thanks again