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Govt to procure scanners to detect fake agric inputs

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Cabinet Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries; Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja

All imported agricultural inputs imports will be passed through gamma ray scanners at all points of entry, authorities have revealed.

Inputs deemed unfit for the market will be blocked at that point and, subsequently, the importer will be suspended indefinitely.

According to the agriculture ministry, importation of agricultural inputs will be limited to just a handful of people, and just those dealing in genuine products.

These measures are part of the new plans by the agricultural ministry, intended to curb the distribution of fake agricultural fertilisers, seeds and pesticides.

Farmers lose millions of shillings annually due to poor yields as a result of using fake inputs on the market.

How the technology works

Vincent Ssempijja, the agriculture minister, said they are in the final stages of procuring contractors who will setup gamma-ray scanners at both the airports and border points for that purpose.

The minister made the remarks yesterday ( Tuesday, September 15, 2020) in an interview with New Vision, just after addressing journalists on the second cropping season at Uganda Media Centre in Kampala.

Ssempijja said the procurement and installation of scanners will cost an estimated $28m (about sh103b).

“Counterfeits have greatly affected us on the international market.

Our produce has received a red flag and it is hurting the sector. We hope that when we introduce this technology, we will weed out the wrong characters,” he said.

The scanners, he said, will be linkedo other existing inspection systems used by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and that used by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).

This will enable tracking of the consignments, both from the country of origin, through the ports and to the

final customer.

Once the consignment reaches the border point, samples will not be picked like it is currently done.

Instead, the gamma-ray scannerswill scan through the container and establish whether they conform to what the source company released.

“If the source companies are the trouble causers, we will also suspend them. But we know, the biggest cause of counterfeits are concocted by dealers,” Ssempijja said.

According to him, the dealerschange the original inputs and rebrand them after mixing counterfeits.

Much as he said that the technology will come soon, he declined to give the projected dates and the source of the funds.

He also asked farmers to always note that all quality farm inputs have a hard quality seal from the agricultural ministry. Those without, he said, should not be bought.

“Every farmer should keep the container of whatever input they buy from a dealer. They should also keepreceipts. Once the input fails to work, report to the sub-county extension workers who will report to the district and we will have feedback at the headquarters.

Immediately, the dealer or company will be suspended,” he said.

Last year, the European Union reportedly accused Uganda of exporting poor quality products and also of shipping products that presented with high contents of poorly mixed agrochemicals used to treat or preserve them.

Subsequently, the EU reportedly rejected and destroyed several consignments of agriculture exports shipped to Europe recently.

Every imported item into EU is checked to verify if it conforms to the set standards. Items that fall short of these standards are intercepted.

According to the EU, the measures are vital to protect human and animal health.

What farmers say

Grace Musimami, the publicity secretary at the Uganda National Farmers Federation, welcomed the development, but asked government to crack a whip on traders in counterfeit inputs.

“We have made this a song. We need hefty penalties on whoever is found with counterfeits.

Most of these people are known and there is nothing done to them. Once counterfeits are got, they just destroy them and that’s all. We should ban those people from operating in the sector,” he said.

In addition, he said, the ministry should deploy input inspectors at all levels who will help farmers detect counterfeits.

Ssempijja warned that the second season of crops is expected to be short, with rains expected to stop in December.

At the moment, he said, farmers would have planted as early as August.

He advised farmers to plant early-maturing crops and drought-resistant ones.

Source: New Vision

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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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