UGANDA MOVES TO “CLEAN MARKET” OF COUNTERFEIT PRODUCTS, BLAMED ON LIBERALIZATION POLICY

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GULU-UGANDA: A local official of Gulu district in Northern Uganda has blamed the current influx of counterfeit products in Uganda markets on liberalization of trade policy by the Museveni regime.
Uganda adopted to liberalize the economy and encouraged privatizations in the nineties and in the process, most State Enterprises, were sold off at give away prices to cronies of the regime to reward them for their role in fighting the regime of former two-time president Milton Obote from 1981 to 1986.
Most of the fake and counterfeit products in the Uganda markets are imported by unscrupulous business people to maximize profits. Most of these counterfeit goods come from China and India. Some local artisans also fabricate products of genuine imported machineries.
Some of the counterfeit products in Uganda markets include phones and accessories, Agricultural Inputs, Seeds, Chemicals and sub-standard machineries’ and “fake” consultants who lack basic qualifications to do consultancy works.
The Gulu District Production Coordinator, Dr. Okidi-Ochora made this remarks on Thursday, July 30, 2015 in Gulu town while officiating over a one-day meeting of Agro-Input dealers where suppliers and retailers came together to find ways of fighting the vise.
“We have seen an influx of fake seeds, chemicals, sub-standards machines, fake consultants, etc. It is upon us to see that we redress this ill”. He said.
He said although Production department’s goal is to have food security and household sustainable income, counterfeits and fake Agro-Inputs are big threats to food security and socio-economic development which must be addressed by all stakeholders.
According to the Executive Secretary of Uganda Seed Trade Association (USTA), Mr. Masereka Nelson Sirikani, there are four reasons which drive people to deal in counterfeit products. These are to: maximize profits by the businessman/woman, weak regulations (laws) governing dealings in counterfeits, high demands of goods and services, and lack of awareness by the customers or consumers.
One of the participants, Mr. Samuel Ogwang, revealed he was a victim of counterfeit product last year when a trader in Kampala sold him “fake” tomatoes seeds.
“I went to Kikubo (one of the markets in Kampala) and bought tomatoes seeds. I took good care of it after planting and even sprayed it twice. What I harvested was completely different from the one which was on the cover of the package. They were very small variety like the small tomatoes locally grown here in Northern Uganda”. Says Ogwang.
Measures to curb counterfeits
Uganda has enacted tougher laws governing trade in Agro-Input.
The Agricultural Chemicals (Control) Act of 15th April 2007 is to control and regulate the manufacture, storage, distribution and trade in, use, importation and exportation of agricultural chemicals and for other related matters.
The Act prescribes a number of penalties for anyone who contravenes this Act including suspending, cancelling or revoking a certificate of registration or license issued under the provisions of this Act or anti regulations made under this Act.
The Seeds and Plant Act of 29th June 2007 provides for the promotion, regulation and control of plant breeding and variety release, multiplication, conditioning, marketing, importing and quality assurance of seeds and other planting materials and for other related matters.
Any person who commits an offence under this Act is liable on conviction, to a fine not exceeding two million Uganda shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding four years or both.
The Uganda National Agro-Dealers’ Association (UNADA) was established in 2002 which brings together individuals who sell Agricultural inputs with the sole aim of operating profitable business by supplying farmers with good quality Agro-Inputs so as to avoid counterfeits.
Membership of UNADA is a minimum of “O” Level Certificate of Education (UCE) for any business person who wants to operate in Agricultural Inputs. They are first trained in “safe use” of chemical handling, business management and product knowledge before getting license to operate business.
“We are almost Extension Service Providers. If you don’t know how to read and write, then you cannot be a member. You must be able to internalize our “code of conduct” and rules whether you are a whole seller, stockiest or retailer”, Said Board member of UNADA, Mr. Ochan-Abari.
The Executive Secretary of Uganda Seed Trade Association (USTA), Mr. Masereka Nelson Sirikani said USTA has opened up a website: www.usta.ug, forum as a “source of Information” for trade and “internet directory” for all Agro-Input dealers. He said each legally registered member location is marked on the Global Positioning System (GPS) Coordinates.
“It should tell us and be able to know, as a seed company, which legally complying company buys our products and also to know the map to his/her locations so as to monitor trade flows of our products”
He said although there are 35 importers of Agro-inputs, only 18 are registered members of USTA. He said some of these importers who are not members are responsible for counterfeit seeds in Uganda market.
“They (importers) mix imported good seeds, chemicals and fertilizers with bad ones which are locally procured and repackage the mixture as if they are genuine ones.” He said.
Ms. Eunice Abodo of the Uganda Registration Service Bureau advised traders in Northern Uganda to register their “Trade Marks”, “Logos”, “Labels of products”, “Business Names” and “Companies” so as to get services from banks and cross border trade.

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