Imitation in every inch of the word is actively present in all spheres of endeavor where lucre seems to be the watchword. It appears there is always that edge for persons to jump at the slightest opportunity to make some bucks at the expense of innocent but hardworking entrepreneurs. The agro industry is no exception to this anomaly though but the introduction of fake/counterfeit agro inputs comes at a higher risk than the absence of it.
Counterfeit products, are imitations of well-known products and thus discredits these products as well as its impact on high yields. Agro inputs, such as seeds, fertilizers, veterinary drugs and agrochemicals are on an increasingly high demand every day. However, unfortunate it may seem, the end user has little or no adequate information about these products or how they are supposed to be used. This has made it easy for imitations to be introduced into the market and especially to the unsuspecting Ghanaian farmer. The challenge here is on the effect these agrochemicals have on the value chain.
To begin with, these fake inputs are at low prices, encouraging farmers to ignorantly purchase them with the intention of increasing their yield, which they will not be able to achieve. This further discourages farmers from developing a growing interest in the use of agro inputs and indirectly affects the adequacy of food supply, forcing government and private businesses to resort to importation of food beverages in order to compensate for food shortage in the system.
The consumer again, bares the last blow of the ripple effect of the introduction of illegal agrochemicals. Firstly, the counterfeit inputs could have adverse health effects on consumers who purchase food crops which have been administered with illegal/faked chemicals at one point in time during cultivation. Secondly, as a result of low food supply, imported foods have the tendency to be priced higher, forcing consumers to pay more for the same value they could have paid less for, thereby making our farmers poorer.
The farmer on the other hand however, is unable to make any meaningful profit on his investment thus making livelihood difficult for him and his family. The soil is not left out in receiving its unfair share of the ripple effects of these counterfeit inputs. Irreparable damage is caused to the soil, as some of the illegal chemical ingredients may be detrimental to the soil and environment. It may therefore take valuable productive time for the soil to regain its nutrients capable for growing a food crop.
Genuine inputs dealers are bound to experience low patronage of their products due to loss in interest by farmers as a result of their experiences. Most farmers, apart from being illiterate, are not well informed about the existence of fake drugs, therefore considers all agro inputs as the same.
To curb the rise in counterfeit agrochemicals and its ripple effects, CropLife Ghana initiated the Service Spray Provider (SSP) project. Among other things, the SSP project was aimed at eliminating the use of fake/adulterated agrochemicals, With the SSP project; selected farmers are specially trained in the Responsible Use of Pesticides and Integrated Pest Management; in the application of pesticides and they hire their services to fellow farmers.
They are fully attired in Pesticide Protective Equipment (PPE), to spray farms of fellow farmers for a fee. The SSP’s are linked to CLG members to ensure the use of safe and quality approved agro chemicals.
CropLife Ghana has entered into a contact with IFDC to train 100 farmers to become SSP’s for mango, citrus, pineapple, and soy beans productions in Ghana. To do more to ensure a minimal presence of the counterfeit agro chemical, CropLife Ghana has also organized a number of advocacy workshops on faking and adulteration of chemicals especially in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale respectively, to sensitize the general public and especially farmers. In a bid not to leave any stone unturned in the fight against counterfeit, Customs and Regulatory officers, Judiciary and Police service have also been trained on counterfeit agro chemicals, by equipping them with the adequate knowledge and laws in the course of their duty. There has been other extensive works to create awareness on counterfeit drugs through radio interviews, posters and newspaper prints, especially in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.
With these efforts that CropLife Ghana puts in place, counterfeit agrochemicals are on a decline and in recent times farmers are gradually gaining confidence in the use in agro chemicals once again. The full potential and benefits of agro chemical is bound to manifest in increase yield as more Spray Service Providers are trained to help equip small holder farming communities with the required knowledge and expertise to fight the war against counterfeit ago chemicals. Obviously, CropLife Ghana, Ghana Agri-Input Dealers Association (GAIDA) and other stakeholders require more support to train more SSP’s so that every farming community can be rid entirely of counterfeit agro-inputs.