Agriculture Minister Tumwebaze tables a Bill to regulate production and sale of Animal feeds.

The government has proposed a five-year jail term for anyone convicted for importing or exporting unregulated animal feeds if the Animal Feeds Bill, 2023 is enacted into law by Parliament.

Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries (MAAIF) tabled the Bill in Parliament on Wednesday before Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa forwarded it to the Committee on Agriculture for scrutiny.

According to the Bill whose objective is to provide a legislative framework for the operationalization of the Animal Feeds Policy, the government wants to ensure that all persons who intend to produce, store, transport and sell animal feeds have to first be licensed.

The reason for licensing of producers, importers, exporters and dealers of animal feed is to ensure that whatever goes on the market meets the standards set by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS).

“A person who produces, Imports, exports, sells or uses animal feeds that contain prohibited substances commits an offense and is liable, on conviction, to fine not exceeding 250 currency points (UGX5m) or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years, or both” reads clause 16 (3) of the Bill.

The proposal from MAAIF is that it would also be at the discretion of the Court to also order for the destruction of the animal feed that contains prohibited substances, at the expense of the convicted producer, importer, exporter, transporter, seller or user of the animal feed.

Tumwebaze in a signed copy of the Bill explained its provisions in five parts which are all aimed at putting an end to the counterfeit products on the market that have led to persistent challenges to livestock farmers.

The Minister explains that the Bill seeks to limit the application of the Act to animal feds produced for commercial purposes; regulate the production, manufacture, importation, exportation, storage, transportation and sale of animal feeds; establish the Animal Feeds Committee; establish the offices of animal feeds inspectors and analysts and, giving the Minister powers to make regulations it its operationalization.

Clause 3 of the Bill proposes the registration by the Committee of all premises intended for producing, storing or sale of animal feeds. This Committee has to consider the application and issue a certificate of registration to an applicant who complies with the requirements.

Therefore, a person who contravenes the registration requirement would commit an offense whose penalty upon conviction is proposed to be a fine not exceeding 100 currency points (UGX2m) of a jail term not exceeding six years or both.

After the premises are registered, nobody can carry out alterations to the original plan unless with the approval of the Committee. The proposed penalty for production, storage or selling of animal feed in unregistered premises is a fine not exceeding UGX2m or a jail term not exceeding one year or both for an individual, while it is a fine not exceeding UGX4m for a body corporate.

Clause 11 of the Bill provides for the issuance of permits by the Committee to persons who wish to import animal feeds and such approval could take at least 10 days from the date of the application. Both illegal importers and exports could on conviction be fined UGX4m or a jail sentence not exceeding one year or both.

MAAIF in the Bill has also provided for the regulation of the additives in the production of animal feeds but with strict adherence to regulation that may be issued by the Minister.

In Clause 18, the Bill provides for the establishment of a feed quality control laboratory by anyone intending to produce animal feeds with the approval of the Committee. Whoever is not able to establish one would be required to provide proof that her or she has access to another approved laboratory.

“A person referred to in subsection (1) [of Clause 18] shall retain the services of a chemist or animal nutritionist who shall be responsible for the analysis and testing of animal feeds and for determining conformity of the animal feeds to the Standard of the National Bureau of Standards of the particular animal fees, before the animal feeds is released for sale” read subsection (2) of the Clause.

Like for other products on the market, MAAIF wants animal feeds to be well packaged with strong material with a seal; a tamper proof; a leak proof; and, a clean and not used material. A person who contravenes these requirements commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding UGX4M or a jail sentence not exceeding one year or both.

The Committee that will oversee the production, transportation, exportation, importation of animal feeds is established under Clause 23 of the Bill. This committee would consist of the Commissioner responsible for animal production as its Chairperson while other members include the Commissioner for extension services; Commissioner for crop production; Commissioner for agricultural mechanization; Commissioner for crop inspection and certification; Commissioner for animal health; three animal farmers and, the Assistant Commissioner for animal nutrition who shall be the Secretary to the Committee.

Among the functions of the Committee, the Minister has proposed to register premises for production, storage or sale of animal feeds; license producers, importers, exporters, transporters; and inspect such premises where the production, storage or sale of these products is done in the country.

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