Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Frank Tumwebaze introduced a 14-member committee to study how the use of agrochemicals and animal health products can be improved.
The committee will be chaired by Prof. John David Kabaasa, the principal of Makerere University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB) who will be deputized by Dr. Eve Kasirye Alemu, an international consultant on Standards, Quality Assurance & Food Safety.
Other members are Dr. Stevens Kisaka, a lecturer at Makerere University; Dr. Jullian Omalla, the Chief Executive Officer of Delight Uganda Limited; Beatrice Byarugaba, an agronomist; Dr. John Nuwagaba, Chairman of Uganda Veterinary Board; Hudda Mahmood, the Managing Director of Mairye Estates; and Tayebwa Rutamwebwa, the Chief Executive Officer of Mutungo Dairy Training Centre.
The list is completed by Dr. Patrick Vudriko, a veterinary pharmacologist, researcher and lecturer at Makerere University; Flora Kiconco, a lawyer; Ben Ssekamatte, who has PhD in Crop Science; Dr. Peter Beine, who was picked from NAGRC& DB; Fred Mayanja and Charlotte Kemigyisha, both from the agriculture ministry.
As Uganda moves from subsistence agriculture to commercial agriculture, the use of agrochemicals is one of the methods being used to increase agricultural production.
However, according to Minister Tumwebaze, over the past decade, there have been growing concerns on the low levels of efficacy of some of the available agrochemicals and acaricides in Uganda.
"This prompts the question - what is the problem? Is the problem the quality of drugs because of weak government regulation? (are fake drugs being dumped onto our market?). Is it poor application by farmers? or it’s an issue of disease resistance against the available drugs? Or is it a combination of some or all the above? We need to know and respond appropriately in a precise and concise manner," he said.
"Based on this background and in response to the frequent outcry of farmers and other farming stakeholders regarding the quality and efficacy of animal and crop drugs and other inputs in the control and fight against diseases; I have decided, after serious consideration and consultation, to appoint a committee of eminent persons with reasonable expertise (professionals and practitioners) in the crop and animal husbandries to assess the persistence of this problem, including the prevalent drivers and propose viable interventions towards the issues of quality and the regulatory frameworks of agro chemicals& agro-inputs. This team will be supported by a Secretariat at the Ministry who will include technical officers at the Ministry and relevant Agencies."
According to the minister, the committee will do the following so that the government can come up with "clear policy and regulatory reforms":
a)Study and profile the various agrochemicals, acaricides and inputs and their various sources that are available on the market in Uganda.
b) Study and profile the supply chain of agrochemicals, acaricides and inputs in Uganda with a view to establish existing gaps and loopholes in policy, regulatory frameworks and usage.
c) Study and inquire into the forms of complaints and their probable root causes regarding the quality of agrochemicals, acaricides and inputs from the farmers and other stakeholders in the entire value chain.
d) Study and review the appropriateness of the current Government policy, institutional mandates and regulatory frameworks for agrochemicals, acaricides and inputs
e) Make recommendations on the necessary reforms that Government needs to undertake in addressing the identified gaps in a sustainable manner.
f) Submitting the final report within 90 days; during this period of Lockdown, they will do desk research and review available relevant literature.