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Agriculture ministry impounds fake inputs worth Shs30m

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By EVE MUGANGA

The Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries’ (MAAIF) department of crop inspection and certification has impounded fake inputs worthy Shs30 million in their operations conducted for one week within the country.

The inspectors from the said department impounded tones of fake maize seeds plus dozens of sub-standard and or expired agro chemicals. The fake products were mainly expired seeds, seeds with forged labels, adulterated chemicals, seeds mixed with food colour, among others. Two years back similar operations were conducted and different dealers were arrested and charged.

Mr Isaac Wamatsembe, one of the MAAIF inspectors, said: “Two years back we began operations on counterfeit products and so many people were arrested and many products were impounded, however this time round we have seen a very big impact because compared to last year, at least a few products were impounded and we think conducting these operations can get these inputs off markets.”

He noted that inputs worth millions of shillings were seized from different shops and these were mainly unregistered products, expired products, obsolete products, fake chemicals, defaced products, altered expiry dates, unlabelled products and suspicious products among others.

Mr Fred Muzira, another agricultural inspector said close to 900 litres of unregistered fertilizers called Rapid Gro and Booster were impounded from Nakaseke, Kabarole, Hoima and Masindi among others.

“At least 50 litres of assorted expired insecticides have also been impounded as well as 90kgs of unlabelled fungicide, 57 litres of herbicides and expired seeds. However, compared to previous enforcements we are seeing great improvement,’’ he said.

He added: “Fake and expired drugs and chemicals have been found on the shelves, from where unsuspecting farmers get them only to cause more harm to the health of users, crops and animals.”

Mr Muzira explained that the operation was to assess the level of compliance by the traders and sensitise farmers on where to get genuine seeds from.

Common types of counterfeits

Mr Muzira warns of the most common types or signs of counterfeits.

Mislabeling: This is where the label does not reflect contents in the package. This is often with imports.

Label Reuse: Where a premium product’s label is placed on sub-standard or adulterated products.

Label imitation: Where a premium brand is imitated but the product sub-standard or adulterated. “In seeds, we have found out that it is mostly maize that is counterfeited,” Muzira says. Seed growers, companies, and ago-dealers place grains in the government-issued seed packages, and label them OPV or hybrid varieties.

Consumer ignorance, as it is still difficult for smallholder farmers to determine if a product has been adulterated (diluted or fake) or if it is a sub-standard product (expired or poor quality) based on the label alone.

Labels and packages are tampered with, and the product itself may look and smell likes the authentic product.

But also on top of it all, the profit potential of dealing in counterfeit products motivates ill-intentions within actors across the value chain.

Source: Daily Monitor

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Anti-tick vaccine drive gives hope to farmers

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Dairy farmers in Ankole Sub-region are optimistic that the anti-tick vaccine launched by the government will solve their problem of tick resistance to acaricides.
For the last 10 years, dairy farmers across the country have decried tick resistance to acaricides, which has been ravaging the livestock sector.

Mr Emmanuel Kyeishe, a resident of Rushere in Kiruhura District and dairy farmer with more than 100 head of cattle, says dairy farmers in the cattle corridor have battled the problem of tick resistance for a long time.
“The issue of ticks has been rampant in the cattle corridor to the extent of losing our cows. We spend a lot on treating them because of ticks since they infect animals with several diseases,”  he said.

Mr Kyeishe said he loses at least two cows every month to tick-borne diseases like East Coast Fever and heart water.
“I have lost 180 cows in the last five years due to ticks and tick-borne diseases. If they do not die, they get blind and some lose their skin. But if we get a vaccine, it will have saved us a lot,” he said.
Mr Kyeishe added that he has resorted to mixing agrochemicals with acaricides since the available ones on the market are failing.

Mr Jackson Bells Katongole, a dairy farmer in Kashari, Mbarara District, said if the government’s move to have anti-tick vaccine is successful, quality of dairy products would improve.
“A farmer loses at least two to five cows every month and we have resorted to using different concoctions from Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya because the problem of ticks has made us helpless,” he said.
He added: “We had reached the point of mixing pesticides with acaricides because of tick resistance and in the process our cows have gone blind, lost skin and others died.”

Mr Katongole further said each cow that dies is valued at around Shs2.5 million, which means that a farmer loses Shs5 million every month.
The Mbarara City Veterinary Officer, Dr Andrew Akashaba, said in Mbarara alone, there are about 60,000 head of cattle, mostly exotic breeds which are prone to ticks.
“Most of the exotic breeds of cattle are at a high risk of acquiring ticks and tick borne diseases, which are a major hindrance to livestock development in the cattle corridor,” he said.
Mr Akashaba added that between 2,000 and 3,000 cows die annually in Mbarara alone due to tick-related diseases.

While launching the final clinical trial of anti-tick vaccine manufactured by National Agriculture Research Organisation at Mbarara Zardi on Thursday, the deputy director general and research coordinator, Dr Yona Baguma, assured the farmers that once the vaccine is approved, they will be spraying their cattle against ticks twice in six months as opposed to twice a week.

Original source: Monitor

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Farmers fail to access farm inputs on Ministry e-platform

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About 3,640 model farmers in Nebbi District, who were registered under the Agricultural Cluster Development Programme (ACDP) to access agricultural inputs on E-voucher, are stuck after failure of the system.

The farmers say the system has affected their planting patterns.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry under the Agriculture cluster Development Programme (ACDP) introduced the e-voucher system five years ago to enable farmers access agricultural inputs electronically.

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Farmers on alert as new banana virus hits Western Uganda

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Farmers should stop getting banana plantlets from districts in Western and North-West Uganda to stop the spread of the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) disease, Hebert Musiimenta, the Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries-MAAIF has advised.

The Banana Bunchy Top Virus was first observed in the western Uganda districts in late 2020. In July this year, the ministry raised a red flag when the disease caused havoc on banana plantations in West Nile, Rwenzori and Tooro regions.

An infected plant presents with severe stunting, narrow leaves, chlorotic leaf margins, and dark green streaks on petioles and midribs. The affected plant also shows a rosette-like or bunchy and choked appearance. Diseased plants rarely produce fruit and when they do, the fruit is stunted and twisted.

The disease is spread by aphids and the planting of affected tubers.

The disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Hebert Musiimenta, Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), says to contain the spread of the disease, farmers should stop getting banana planting materials from Nebbi, Zombo, Arua, Maracha, and Koboko districts in North-West Uganda and Bunyangabu, Kasese, Kabarore, and Bundibugyo districts in Western Uganda.

He also advises the farmers to be cautious about planting materials from Kisoro, Kabale, Ntungamo, and Isingiro districts since they are near the border.  The disease is suspected to have spread to Uganda from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. Musiimenta advised farmers in an interview with URN that if they are to pick planting materials, they should first consult agriculture officers in their areas to recommend safe planting materials.

Musimenta revealed that a team of officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries, and Fisheries is investigating the prevalence of the virus in Kigezi region specifically districts neighboring Rwanda and DR Congo.

He says the disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Original Source: URN via The independent

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