With the increasing counterfeits in agro-inputs on the market, the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), in conjunction with the Anti-Counterfeit Network (ACN), has kicked off an awareness campaign to promote vigilance among manufacturers, dealers, farmers and consumers on how to eliminate the vice.
According to ACN director of legal and corporate affairs, Fred Muwema, Uganda risks losing more markets for their agricultural products if no urgent action is taken to deal with the problem.
This was during a training of the agro-input dealers’ Intellectual Property (IP) at Protea Hotel in Kololo, Kampala on Thursday (October 24).
He noted that there is also a need to strengthen the capacity of the Uganda government agencies in combating counterfeits in agro inputs.
“So, today, we have had a training done by the URSB, together with ACN to agro-input dealers. They have been trained on what a trademark is, the importance of having a trademark, the importance of registering their businesses and the dangers of dealing in counterfeit products,” he noted.
Muwema said agro-input counterfeits affect the country’s food security and sovereignty, citing cases where Uganda’s maize, milk, and eggs among others have been rejected by neighbouring countries.
He raised the fear that if no step is taken to curb the vice, very soon Uganda might fail to export anything.
“We are destroying our comparative advantage by contaminating our food with dangerous substances with counterfeits. This campaign is supposed to secure not only the citizens, but also the economic standing because agriculture is the area where we are strongest. That is why this campaign should not be left to the government alone,” he added.
The director of IP URSB said there is a need for collaboration in the fight against counterfeiting.
“We need to have more co-ordination between the various government agencies. Issues of counterfeiting not only touch URSB, but they will touch other entities that deal with standards, seeds certification and Police, among others. When we have partners that can come together, we can come up with comprehensive solutions to the challenges that we are facing,” he said.
Economics department head at MUBS Dr Ronett Atukunda said the problem of counterfeiting is big.
“This stems from the fact that the people out there, especially the farmers, feel that nothing can be done, so they are just settling for losses that they are encountering. The problem out there is that they are losing a lot and many have even been forced to sell off their land to buy bodabodas,” she said.
She added that their recent survey shows that seeds and pesticides are the most counterfeited products.
“Farmers lose because of these fake seeds. We need to create awareness because we believe counterfeits is a problem that needs to be fought from all sides,” Atukunda said.
“We must have farmers reporting that counterfeits exist, we must have agro-input dealers responding and the willingness of a dealer to take back a fake product. We need to see the willingness of the agricultural police acting if someone reports and also see local leaders taking part,” she noted.