Unlicensed agrochemical dealers to be shut down

Are you an unlicensed agrochemicals dealer? If so, you might soon have to halt operations until you acquire necessary documentation.

Importers, distributors and retailers of pesticides and fertilizers who have no dealership license could be soon be closed down with the deadline set for the end of the current fiscal year.

This is according to officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Services.

Beatrice Uwumukiza, the Director General of Agriculture and Livestock Inspection and Certification at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources told Business Times that out of 466 agro-dealers so far inspected only 144 are have met standards and only two licenced.

The agency began inspecting for compliance to standards in March this year.

“The inspection is ongoing since we have over 1,066 agro-dealers across the country according to a 2013 assessment. The inspections are to ensure that they comply with regulations under the agrochemical law before being issued a license,” she said.

Dealers have up to the end of the current fiscal year (July 2019) to comply with the guidelines or else they will no longer be allowed to import, distribute or retail pesticides, officials say.

She said the initiated licensing aims at curbing illegal importing operating which have seen fake and counterfeit agrochemicals, expired chemicals and other sub-standard products enter the market.

“We have been carrying out inspection since March this year and we detected that many dealers have so many things to correct in terms of required standards. We have since realized that some retail fake products with some unaware that they are counterfeit. We have so far listed allowed pesticides as well as those that are blacklisted pesticides after researchers revealed they have a negative impact,” she said.

Evariste Safari, the Head of Rwanda Agriculture Inputs Dealers Association (RAIDA), and Chairman of the Board of Agrochemical Advisory Council Members said that private sector operators in the sector through the agricultural chamber have committed to sign performance contracts to develop agriculture sector especially by complying with standards.

“We have recently arrested the truck full of fake pesticides in Rubavu district. We have handled several such cases. We want to get a list of licensed pesticides importers so as to avoid such fake products. We will also set up a disciplinary committee among the dealers to monitor those selling fake products,” he said.

He cited areas such as Kabuga, Kabarondo, Kayonza, Nyagatare as the most notorious in regards to reported instances of sub-standard or counterfeit products.

Agro-dealers who are reluctant to seek licenses will have their business licences suspended while those with licenses but flout rules will be relicensed.

Agrochemical dealers also pointed out that illegal operations have been affecting their businesses.

“Those who import fake and unregistered pesticides cause us losses as they sell them at low prices which is often uncompetitive. This not only causes us to lose clients but also affects farmers’ productivity as well as negatively affect the environment,” Spiridio Niyodusenga, a technical manager of Agrotech Limited said.

Providing licenses to dealers could eliminate hundreds of dealers who import substandard and counterfeit pesticides while east the process for licensed operators.

Experts say that the efforts should be matched with regular border inspection to ensure that counterfeits are not smuggled into the country.