UNBS and partners launch “Kakasa” an E-tag system to help farmers purchase genuine agro-inputs

Maize Farm

Kakasa or E-Verification is a brand protection system that uses a unique scratch code packaging label containing a 14 or 16 digit verification number. When the buyer scratches the label, a number is revealed. This code is then sent by SMS to the number indicated on the label and a message will be sent back confirming whether the product is genuine or not. If the message confirms it is genuine then it means the product is a licensed original and the quality is backed by the companies that manufacture and/or import them. If there is a rejection/’not genuine’ message then the farmer should not buy or use the product. If the agro-dealer has purchased the product for resale to farmers, a complaint then can be lodged to ensure the necessary action is taken against the supplier.

As per evidence from agribusiness sectors in 12 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, counterfeit (fake) agricultural inputs account for more than 30% of all retail agro-input purchases. Unscrupulous entrepreneurs produce counterfeit seed and pesticide packaging and then fill the packs with inferior products. Examples include regular grain coloured and sold as quality seed, or agro-chemicals mixed with water or other unknown substances and sold to farmers.

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The efficacy of counterfeit products may be low or non-existent, resulting in low crop yields, lack of confidence in improved inputs and low uptake and use of agro-inputs by farmers, which all goes towards contributing to food insecurity and poverty.  Unlicensed chemicals may also pose a serious environmental risk or health hazard to consumers because they have not been approved for sale in Uganda.

To deal with this illegal and unscrupulous behavior Kakasa has been implemented by a combination of public and private sector brand protection services. E-tag is a service of Uganda National Bureau Standards (UNBS)who are working in collaboration with two private service providers, REN Publishers and mPedigree. Brand ID is a purely private sector service provider which is also offering a similar service under Kakasa. The national education campaign is being supported by USAID Feed the Future Uganda Agricultural Inputs Activity.

Ms Patricia Ejalu, Deputy Executive Director-Technical of UNBS, is happy about this collaboration as she said,

“We are pleased with the good working relationship between our Ministry of Trade and Cooperatives, UNBS and MAAIF. The importance of this partnership is vital for systems such as this e-verification to be effectively adopted.   UNBS’ E-tag System has been developed to work across all production sectors in Uganda, the agricultural sector has taken the lead with the support of USAID Feed the Future Agricultural Inputs Activity.  The e-verification for agro-inputs will provide valuable, real time information that will not only help the end-user to make a decision before purchase, but will also be in places where UNBS cannot be physically”.

How Kakasa benefits customers:
This system of verification ensures a number of things:
•    That the seed or pesticide product is from an approved supplier
•    It prevents buyers from purchasing fake or adulterated products
•    Prevents re-use of packs filled with diluted contents
•    Provides evidence for users to take to the relevant authorities

How Kakasa benefits companies:
•    Companies can track their products and the distributors who sell them.
•    Builds confidence in the Brand.
•    Allows Authorities and consumers to hold brand owners accountable.
•    It removes any excuse for poor quality.

What Kakasa does not do:
•    Kakasa does not vouch for the quality of the product inside the package. That is up to the supplier.
•    It does not solve the problem of farmers buying loose product from open containers.
•    It cannot address the issue of home saved seed and informal seed suppliers.

Who needs to come together to implement Kakasa:
Input suppliers/manufacturers, dealers and distributors of agro-inputs along with law enforcement agencies and theGovernment of Uganda led by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Forestry (MAIIF)all need to participate in order to make Kakasa a success.

Image: Farming Machinery