Agriculture ministry impounds fake inputs worth Shs30m

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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