Friday, 14 November 2014

New police unit to oversee agriculture

The Ministry of Internal Affairs is to constitute a police unit for the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to help fight against illegal fishing and counterfeit agricultural inputs in the market.
Agriculture minister Tress Bucyanayandi, has said the internal affairs ministry has agreed to constitute a Police unit similar to the environmental protection Police.
The minister told New Vision after the launch of the National Seed Board, that the Police unit will help the ministry to enforce bans against movement of animals in case of disease outbreaks and use of outlawed fishing gears on lakes.
The Police, he explained, will reinforce the ministry’s quality assurance team in monitoring the quality of seeds distributed by seed companies and protecting the farmers from counterfeit agricultural inputs by ensuring that they do not reach the market.
This Police, he added, will also help to ensure the veterinary quarantines are adhered to.
“The sale of counterfeit inputs is a big problem. That is partly why we need the Police to help us detect and stop the circulation of such inputs in the market,” Bucanayandi said.
However, the minister could not tell when and where the Police unit will be constituted and deployed.
“We have agreed in principle that we should have our own Police unit. But we have not yet agreed on the numbers and where they will be deployed,” he added.
This comes after President Yoweri Museveni introduced the UPDF soldiers in the distribution and monitoring of the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) activities.
Close to 300 soldiers were deployed in constituencies recently after undertaking training in agriculture at Makerere University.
Police boss Gen Kale Kayihura shows residents of Lambu landing site, Masaka district copies of authorised identity cards for Fisheries officers in 2010. PHOTO/Dismus Buregeya
The minister revealed that the Police will also patrol the lakes at night to check the use of outlawed fishing gear.
He told the board members at the ministry headquarters in Entebbe that the ministry has drafted a national seed policy to fight fake and low quality seeds on the market.
“This is in advanced stages and it will be at cabinet level soon. Your success will be measured on how fast you will multiply the seeds and increase access to good quality seeds,” he said.
The 25 registered seed companies, Bucanayandi observed, can provide about 20% of the seeds needed by farmers.
“This means 80% of the seeds are of poor quality and that explains the low farm productivity,” he said.
Dr. Imelda Kashaija, the deputy director general of the National Agricultural Research Organisation, said the Police should always be called in when compliance has failed.
She explained that many farmers plant grains instead of seeds, which accounts for the low agricultural productivity.

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