Agrochemical traders seek legal muscle to curb counterfeits

Monday July 3 2017

Police officers displays impounded counterfeit products in Vihiga county. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Police officers displays impounded counterfeit products in Vihiga county. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

By JAMES KARIUKI
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Dealers in agrochemicals want to self-regulate to enable them step up the fight against fake pesticides and acaricides. Counterfeits have been blamed for poor harvests in Kenya.

A meeting convened by the Agrochemicals Association of Kenya (AAK) in Nairobi resolved that the dealers be given legal grounds to arrest and prosecute people found selling fake and counterfeit chemicals.

“Self-regulation will allow the association to rid itself of counterfeiters, where it shall license manufacturers, salesmen and dealers, making it a crime for anyone to handle, deal or sell counterfeit products to farmers,” it said.

The association supported the formation of a strong lobby to sensitise Kenyans on how to identify fake products and the dangers they pose. 

“We resolved to form a strong lobby comprising decision makers to engage other stakeholders and the government in raising funds for anti-counterfeiting activities, including increasing the import levy to one per cent,” the association said.

Branded vehicles

The meeting recommended that all salesmen of agrochemicals use branded vehicles and that agro-dealers be compelled to join the association to promote sale of genuine products.

Members of AAK also called for proper funding to the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) to enable it prosecute offenders, saying graft was a big challenge and that any distributor who contravened the code of conduct should be punished.

“County governments should also deter open sale of unregistered agrochemical products. Professional bodies such as the Architectural Association of Kenya should be engaged to deter use of counterfeit chemicals to control pests,” it said.

To improve services, the soon-to-be debated Bill, now undergoing public discussion, also seeks to introduce minimum qualification for all agro-dealers to rid the sector of quacks, who mis-advise farmers leading to hefty losses when crops fail.

The meeting noted that many agro-dealers were not members of AAK, thereby creating room for unfair practices as they were not signatories to the Code of Conduct that discourages counterfeits.

AAK’s Anti-counterfeit Steering Committee urged PCPB to cede the licensing role to AAK, saying talks were ongoing to help bring all sector players under AAK. This would ensure dealers accused of selling counterfeits or fake products were dealt with firmly.

“We need to adopt security technologies to fight counterfeits. Some counterfeiters are insiders who understand our operations. The anti-counterfeits fight should also be a major feature of the agency’s agenda,” it said.

In its report, the committee support calls for licensing of manufacturers, sales teams and agro-dealers.

To deter entry of untested agro-chemicals into the market via imports, AAK said all distributors must be discouraged from directly sourcing for agrochemicals abroad.

Other measures touted include introduction of a tamper-proof security code that a buyer could text toll free to confirm the authenticity of any product.