In her welcoming address, the CEO Ms. Evelyn Lusenaka gave a brief history of AAK and the four flagship projects being undertaken by AAK namely; Container Management (CM) Project, Spray Service Provider (SSP) Project and Anti-Counterfeit Project. The Anti-Counterfeit Steering Committee (ACSC) has been in existence since 2014 and its mandate has been extended by a year. This is to enable it tackle counterfeiting which was put at 18% by a study carried out in 2016. She urged industry to support the fight against counterfeiters. She noted that Accreditation will take the highest priority for Anti-counterfeit activities in 2017.
Accreditation was given as one of the strategies for reducing counterfeiting and cleaning the supply chain. She also highlighted the code of conduct on pesticide management which is followed internationally and dictates how member companies transact their business from manufacturing to disposal. She reiterated that it is a voluntary standard which promotes fair business practices and operates within CAP 346 which is Kenya’s legislation on pesticide products.
The chair of Anti-Counterfeit Steering Committee (ACSC), Mr. Patrick Ngugi called for company-wide accreditation where companies sign onto the code of conduct and are issued accreditation cards. This will be cascaded to distributors and agrodealers who will be issued with accreditation certificates and window stickers. He urged AAK members to take industry meetings seriously and make them a priority. He envisioned a situation where decision makers personally attend meetings so as to give purpose and weight to proceedings as issues discuss affect our businesses directly.
THE ACCREDITATION SCHEME FOR INDUSTRY MEMBERS AND PLAYERS.
Accreditation was defined as standards which members sign into to assure clients on the quality of products and integrity of the people dealing in those products. The scheme was started in 2000 and targeted technical and sales staff of member companies. The scheme was later diversified to include distributors and stockists who were issued with a certificate and window stickers to show their commitment to good business practices.
In their presentation to the meeting, The CEO and chair of ACSC urged participants to give their support in ensuring that accreditation is entrenched in law to make it mandatory for opening and running of distributor and agrodealer businesses.
The benefits of accreditation to industry were given as
- Enabling a sustainable business environment suitable for business development.
- It shows leadership and initiative from the industry.
- Adoption of self-regulation reduces the chances of imposed regulations.
- Ensures commitment of signatories to good and ethical business practices.
- AAK Member Asking A Question During The Event.
Advantages of accreditation to the farmer were given as:
- It ensures reliability of products and services offered to farmers.
- Ensures consistency.
- Gives certainty in the quality of products.
- Assures safety through risk management.
- Gives farmers confidence in product.
During the plenary session, the discussions revolved around how to set deterrent actions against non-complying outlets/companies, setting of a schedule for training of member company staff on accreditation, how to approach farmer sensitization on accreditation so as to create awareness and how to invigorate the accreditation system as an anti-counterfeiting strategy.
Contributions and queries from the plenary session were:
- Accreditation is currently voluntary but PCPB support the initiative. Disciplinary action against contraveners is taken from within by the AAK executive committee.
- The proposed amendments to CAP346 are still at cabinet level awaiting submission to parliament. Once enacted it will make it mandatory for all agrodealers to be accredited.
- The regulations that accompany the amendment have been completed and shall take effect once the bill is assented to.
- The accreditation card issued to accredited sales personnel should have a validity of 2 years upon which renewal is done through retraining.
- In the event of change of employer, the accreditation card issued to sales staff becomes invalid. It can be reissued through the new employer after verification by AAK.
- Growers should be made part of the scheme to create demand from the consumers. About 5,000 farmers have been trained on accreditation and requested to drive business to such stockists.
- During appointment of distributors by members, they should demand for an accreditation certificate as part of the mandatory documents alongside bank guarantees, KRA clearance and such. In turn distributors, should ask for accreditation cards from company sales staff and agrodealers have been asked to purchase from accredited distributors and member company field staff. This message should take priority so as to boost the accreditation scheme.
- Distribution in vans increases the likelihood of counterfeits and as such should be discouraged.
- Members were asked to consider having the message “Buy from accredited dealers only” in their promotional material- posters, banners and radio adverts. This will support the initiative by increasing its visibility.
- Each member company to accredit all their staff as a good example to the other actors expected to undergo accreditation. Members can take the opportunity to train their staff during their monthly or quarterly sales team meetings.
- The SSP’s to be capacity built for counterfeit detection and farmer awareness creation.
As a way forward, the following was proposed:
- AAK members to take ownership of the accreditation process for it to be successful.
- All member companies to ensure all distributors are accredited before engaging them in business. It was agreed that all members ask for accreditation certificate before signing distributorship agreement with a distributor.
- Any accredited distributor found to be involved in mal-practice will be circulated to all members and a decision made by AAK members not to supply to him/her.
- Member companies to ensure all their staff are accredited and trained by AAK. In this aspect AAK was asked to proactively seek out members for training and ask companies to give dates for training.
- AAK to aggressively go out and accredit agro-dealers in the counties
- The ideas raised by participants on improving accreditation to be owned up by members and AAK to formally communicate to members on the suggestions made.
- All participants to “put their house in order” in terms of getting their staff accredited.
- The participants to be given dates for the accreditation training. Sales meetings would be an opportune moment.
- PCPB can only legally enforce accreditation after the assent of the new bill and regulations are implemented. Currently it will be impossible to legally enforce such a requirement as part of licensing.
- Members were urged to strike a balance between their sales targets and their moral obligations/integrity since the future of the industry is more important as opposed to immediate benefits.