NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 15- The government has admitted that the counterfeiting of farm inputs such as seeds and chemicals is on the rise and it’s partly to blame for the poor crop yields in the country.
This vice has also exposed consumers to diseases but Agriculture Assistant Minister Gideon Ndambuki however said his Ministry had come up with various initiatives to create awareness on the issue and help farmers identify and access genuine products.
“This is a very serious area and the government is taking this issue very seriously. We have come up with a number where the farmer can send an SMS (Short Message Service) to find out whether the person who’s sold you the products is a genuine stockist or not,” he said while urging farmers to be vigilant.
Mr Ndambuki said the recently enacted Anti Counterfeit Bill would also help curb this menace by imposing heavy penalties on such unscrupulous traders who are out to make money will little regard to neither the food situation in the country nor the health of the citizens.
It is estimated that the local agrochemical market sell close to 4900 Metric Tonnes of chemicals valued at Sh3.3 billion. There are no statistics yet to show how much of the fake chemicals eat into this market.
The range of goods that are subject to infringement has increased significantly becoming a major source pesticides build up that is a threat to the environment, the minister said.
To ensure the safe handling pesticides and reduce the risks that they pose to humans, livestock and the environment, Mr Ndambuki said there was an ongoing safeguarding project to map out, identify and eventually destroy obsolete chemicals.
“Work has begun to rehabilitate a site in Kitengela which the government has been using to store obsolete pesticides,” he disclosed.
Mr Ndambuki spoke during the launch of a new packaging by agrochemical company FarmChem that is expected to aid in the fight against the substandard inputs.
“With the new packaging which is easy to open and reseal, farmers can now be guaranteed safety of their seeds and fertilisers for a longer period of time while maintaining the quality,” said the firm’s Managing Director Charles Mulinge
The MD said the agri-business community has been grappling with serious counterfeit issues, particularly as their products were previously packed in easy to copy packages making it harder for farmers to be sure of the quality of the products.
However, the problem is not only rampant in the industry but other sectors as well. It is estimated that local manufacturers incur loses worth Sh50billion due to this vice while the government loses Sh20billion in tax revenues every year.
Globally, counterfeit goods make up to approximately five to seven percent of the world trade.