Half of the seeds and pesticides on the market are counterfeit, a new survey has revealed.
This, according to researchers, is the reason many farmers in Uganda continue to incur losses and low production.
According to the mini-baseline anti-Counterfeit survey on agro-inputs, 54% (five in every 10 farmers) had encountered fake seeds, while 24% (two in every 10 farmers) have used fake pesticides.
The study conducted by the Anti-Counterfeit Network (ACN) Africa in March 2022 in the Elgon sub-region, covered a sample of 654 smallholder farmers in Mbale and Sironko districts.
The study assessed the knowledge, attitudes and practices of a range of market actors around the use of agro-input counterfeits within the area.
While presenting the study findings, the lead consultant and head of the department of economics at Makerere University Business School (MUBS), Dr Ronett Atukunda, said 69% of the respondents who had encountered counterfeits of agro-inputs in 2021 did so unknowingly.
Atukunda made the revelation during the agro-input dealers’ intellectual property learning and networking training conducted by Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) in conjunction with ACN, at Protea Hotel in Kololo, Kampala on Thursday, October 27.
“About 72% of the respondents find it difficult to tell the difference between fake and genuine products and only discover that the agro-inputs they used were counterfeits after using them and seeing the outcome on the plants and animals,” Atukunda noted.
The study also showed that 66% used or sold counterfeits in the past year given their relevance on the market.
She said they have kicked off a campaign to engage various stakeholders, including manufacturers, dealers, farmers, law enforcers, judiciary, local leaders, and government agencies, to create awareness on counterfeits, and how they can be eliminated.
It is estimated that Uganda could be losing up to sh6 trillion to counterfeits and substandard products annually.
ACN director for legal affairs and city lawyer Fred Muwema said the training was part of the project dubbed ‘Feed the
Future’, aimed at strengthening the capacity of government agencies in combating counterfeits amongst agro-input dealers.
“Together with URSB, we have had training of agroinput dealers in Uganda and members from the Uganda Seeds Association in the importance of registering their trademarks and businesses, and the dangers of dealing in counterfeit products,” Muwema said, adding that counterfeits have a lot of public health and economic consequences.
Muwema said counterfeits have a great implication on the economy as many of the products such as maize, beef and milk get rejected by other markets after they are found to be contaminated with fake agro-inputs.
Gilbert Agaba, the director of intellectual property at URSB, said the biggest challenge was that Ugandans were willing participants in the crime.
“We think there is no consequence if we engage in this practice of counterfeits. But we all know how we are having a prevalence of cancer and other effects,” he said.
Richard Ndamaje from Savana Seed Limited said some people copied their trade marks and logos.