A city businesswoman dealing in agro-chemicals has been charged for allegedly counterfeiting a trade mark to sell substandard products.
Evlyn Kunahimbire, 35, a resident of Matugga was on Wednesday arraigned before the Magistrates Court at Buganda Road charged with forgery of a trade mark and the sale of substandard agro-chemicals.
Prosecution told court that Kunahimibre with intent to defraud forged or counterfeited Weedmaster trademark for Bukoola industries as well as intentionally selling goods knowing that the registered trademark of Weedmaster was falsely applied to them.
She denied that the charges prompting the presiding Grade One magistrate, Marion Mangeni to ordered for her release on a shs1 million cash bail.
“I have considered the bail application on the facts that the accused is a breastfeeding mother and she has also presented substantial sureties,” Mangeni said as she released her on bail.
The case was adjourned to September 20, 2020 for mention after the prosecutor told court that investigations into the matter are still ongoing.
Kunehimbire was arrested during an operation carried by the Anti-Counterfeit Network Africa (ACN) in partnership with Bukoola Chemical Industries Ltd (BCIL) to crackdown on the illicit trade.
The campaign dubbed “Protect life…Twefeeko” aimed at creating awareness about fake agro-chemical inputs on the market to manage and guarantee quality of stock, food security and health of the people of Uganda but also combating counterfeiting of Bukoola products on the market, and boost consumption of genuine inputs.
Fred Muwema, the legal director for Anti-Counterfeit Network said that presenting Kunehimbire in court was a follow up on the raid that was carried out to apprehend counterfeiters of Bukoola Chemical Industries Ltd products like pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.
“They are chemicals used to eliminate various crop diseases and pests. But in violation of registered trade mark rights the counterfeiters have been duplicating their products and selling them at massive profits with no value to farmers,” he said.
He however urged farmers to be vigilant against supply of fake agro-inputs saying that genuine chemicals can only be accessed from gazetted distribution points across the country.
“We are continuing with the operations with the Police to apprehend other counterfeiters still in the market who are endangering public health and safety. We advise farmers and other consumers to look out for genuine products and avoid being caught in the web of organized crime which perpetrated by the counterfeiters,” he said.
Uganda’s agriculture sector which contributes up to 30% of the total GDP, over 70% of the country’s exports, and engaging up to 70% of the country’s working population is considered as one of the priority sectors for future economic growth and economic inclusion by the Uganda National Development Plan.
The sector however grows at a rate of 2% which is way below the average NDP growth of 6%.
This low performance in the Agriculture sector has been partly blamed on the increasing supply of counterfeits and substandard agro-inputs which have negatively affected the agricultural sector and the economy at large.
It is estimated that farmers in Uganda lose up to $7 million to fake seeds alone, $18 million on fake herbicides, and $2 million on fake fertilizers annually.