Agricultural input dealers want government to leverage technology

A section of value chain players want the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) to automate the registration processes on the grounds that the agro dealers find the current system archaic, bureaucratic and laborious.

They also called for establishment of one stop centre where all issues relating to agro dealers whose primary jobs among other things entails increasing access of agricultural inputs to those who need them with minimum or no hassle at all. 
The one stop centre should have all the information needed for one to become an agro dealer, importer or supplier of agriculture chemicals especially fertilizers.

This, they say will reduce time spent clearing agro chemicals like fertilizers whose delay to reach farmers tend to come with costs.

On behalf of the agro dealers, Mr Habib Amin Tibrichu, a consultant for AFAP recommended that it should be embedded in the new fertilizer policy and regulations.

“In the end, the process will increase efficiency in fertilizer distribution, eliminate corruption tendencies, improve accountability, transparency and even make it easy for the Ministry of Agriculture to monitor and regulate those dealing in authorized fertilizers and related agro chemicals,” said Tibrichu said recently in Kampala.

AFAP is the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership, an International NGO that looks at Soil Health and promotion of fertilizer distribution mechanisms and policies in Africa.

He explained that through his research, agro dealers accused the ministry of agriculture of long registration processes, cumbersome acquisition of licenses, long processes of issuance of import permits in addition to corruption and bribery during inspections.

“The Ministry should copy examples from institutions like UTB and automate its processes such as the application of certificates of operation, registration, checking which fertilizers have been registered or not so that agro dealers are not found with non-registered agro chemicals during inspection,” he said.

The second public private dialogue on the fertilizer sub sector held in Kampala, organized by AFAP, MAAIF with financial support from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also noted that further complication, resulting from uncoordinated and unregulated inspections as several people nowadays tend to masquerade as inspectors from the ministry.

The dialogue was aimed at presenting key recommendations to MAAIF for action and come up with specific actions to address concerns raised by agro dealers to improve the quality of agro inputs and its trade.

Wilfred Thembo-Mwesigwa, the AFAP Policy Consultant for Uganda explained that the new fertilizer policy and regulations were formulated and made available for use last year to help streamline the business of agro chemicals especially fertilizer business in Uganda.

But due to absence of a regulatory framework in the fertilizer market, fertilizer trade and use remained underdeveloped, wondering how the government hopes to achieve its mission of transforming the country into a middle income country by 2040.

On average, farmers in Uganda apply only 1kg of fertilizers per hectare. As a result, the commissioner crop inspection, and Certification, Paul Mwambu noted that Uganda losses up to 80 kilogrammes of nutrients per hectare annually.

It emerged in the meeting that at least 50 kilogrammes of fertilizers should be the very minimum applied per hectare.

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