New study lifts lid on fake Inorganic fertilizers on Ugandan market


Up to 15% of inorganic fertilizers sold on the Ugandan market are adulterated with moisture and in some instances have inadequate key nutrients; a study by the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) has shown.

The study found the inorganic fertilizer samples revealed low quality with moisture content above acceptable limits of 0.5 to 1.5%. In some instances the moisture content was as high as 2.2 percent.

The Study also found falsehood in both weight and nutrient content, for instance, the nutrient content quoted on the labels did not match with the analytical content.

The implication of this is that farmers cannot attain the intended crop response to fertilizer application. The study findings reveal that while repackaging inorganic fertilizer into smaller quantities is justifiable to meet the requirements of smallholder farmers, it also leads to loss of nutrients, especially nitrogen, and also aggravates the high moisture content problem.

Fred Muzira, an agricultural inspector, says between 10 and 15% of fertilizers on the market are fake. He said there are also serious issues with labeling and packaging. These findings are contained in a report titled “Are Ugandan Farmers Using the Right Quality Inorganic Fertilizers” which was released in Kampala recently.

The analysis was based on 170 samples in 50 kilogramme bags and one to two kilogramme packs of commonly used inorganic fertilizers in Uganda.

These are urea and fertilizers whose active ingredients are Nitrogen, Potassium or Phosphorous. The sampling design covered import, wholesale and retail levels of the inorganic fertilizer supply chain.

Two districts were randomly selected from each of the four regions: Kampala and Masaka in Central, Gulu and Lira in Northern, Mbale and Kapchorwa in Eastern and Kisoro and Masindi in Western. Within each district, the input dealers were categorized into three groups: Ministry of

Agriculture registered and certified input traders, Uganda National Agro-Input Dealers Association members and unregistered input dealers.

The Lead Researcher Dr. Swaib Mbowa added that the study also found gaps in the current regulatory system whereby input dealers mixed inorganic fertilizers with items like salt, maize and millet flour.

He said most of the adulterated inorganic fertilizers were sold by either government-registered input dealers or UNADA members, with unregistered input dealers scoring impressively.

The Commissioner for Crop Protection in Uganda’s ministry of Agriculture , Komayombi Bulegeya, said they have been targeting unregistered input dealers for inspection and leaving the registered ones who now end up exploiting the loophole to supply fake inputs.

In Kisoro District in Western Uganda in particular, the study found out that most farmers used fertilizers from Rwanda because they were not only of superior quality but also cheaper.The minister of state for agriculture, Vincent Sempijja, said there is a need to empower farmers with knowledge on proper use of fertilizers.