UGANDA – In response to the poor quality of agrochemicals, including fertilizers, plaguing the Ugandan market, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries is taking decisive action to address the issue.
At the ongoing agrochemicals regulation validation process at Eureka Palace Hotel in Kampala, the Ministry is reviewing draft regulations with the aim of imposing punitive penalties against the sale or dealership of substandard agrochemicals, streamlining importation processes, and ensuring accountability across the sector.
Assistant Commissioner for Agro Chemicals, John Mwanja, emphasized that the proposed regulations are a vital step in updating the outdated laws from 1993, which have proven ineffective in deterring offenders.
The current penalties are meager, allowing counterfeiters to evade substantial consequences easily. For instance, under the existing regulations, individuals found faking fertilizers or other agrochemicals face a fine of just 2 currency points, amounting to approximately UGX 40,000 (U.S$11). Such nominal penalties fail to discourage fraudulent activities and endanger both farmers and the agricultural industry at large.
The newly proposed regulations seek to rectify this issue by significantly increasing the penalties for offenders, reports New Vision.
The revised penalties could be ten times more severe than the existing ones, making it a far more effective deterrent. This tough stance is aimed at safeguarding the interests of farmers and consumers and ensuring that only quality agrochemicals reach the market.
In addition to imposing punitive penalties, the new regulations also address crucial aspects like repackaging processes, importation procedures, and registration and renewal fees.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries has engaged with various stakeholders to ensure that the regulations strike a fair balance that benefits all parties involved.
The involvement of importers, manufacturers, Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), agrochemical inspectors, and agro dealers in the ongoing validation process emphasizes the collaborative approach being taken to improve the sector.
The validation process, organized by the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), is set to conclude on Friday.
AFAP has been a strong advocate for the development of comprehensive regulations that will ensure farmers access high-quality and reliable agrochemicals.
With reports indicating low fertilizer usage in the agricultural sector, estimated at just 1.5 kilograms per hectare, the importance of quality agrochemicals in boosting agricultural productivity cannot be understated.
Joel Kakaire, the AFAP Country Manager, expressed optimism that the validation process will lead to the finalization of the draft regulations, enabling them to become operational within the year. By ensuring the availability of quality agrochemicals in the right quantities and getting them closer to farmers, Uganda’s agricultural sector can expect improved productivity and growth.
As the validation process nears its conclusion, the proposed regulations stand as a testament to Uganda’s commitment to strengthening its agrochemical sector.
With more stringent penalties and improved standards, the regulations promise to create a more accountable and resilient industry that will better serve the needs of farmers and contribute to the nation’s agricultural advancement.