It follows complaints by oil seeds farmers that unscrupulous middlemen with counterfeit currencies and fake weighing scales are combing villages to buy produce from farmers.
Kitgum District Produce Buyers Association has teamed up with Uganda Police to eliminate the exploitation of farmers by middlemen using counterfeit currency. It follows complaints by oil seeds farmersthat unscrupulous middlemen with counterfeit currencies and fake weighing scales are combing villages to buy produce from farmers.
Kitgum Police are already holding unidentified woman for using a counterfeit 50,000 shillings bank note in pre Christmas sales. Denis Ochama, the Kitgum district Police Commander says they arrested the woman after she successfully used the bad note to buy cosmetics on Monday morning and returned to the same shop with more counterfeit money later in the day.
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Following the arrest, police issued a warning to residents indicating that counterfeit currency notes had flooded the district. They also warned that produce dealers operating between Lira and Kitgum districts are behind the counterfeits racket. Ochama says they are investigating the racket to ascertain whether the same group was involved in defrauding farmers ahead of last Christmas season in Kitgum and Lamwo districts.
A farmer whose name was not readily available to URN, reportedly attempted suicide after realizing he had been handed counterfeits notes worth 5 million Uganda shillings for his produce. A kilogram of Simsim costs 3,800 shillings at the stores and 4,500 shillings on the open market. Charles Canwat is a sunflower farmer in Ogili Sub County in Lamwo district. He says some of the agro dealers trick farmers by offering very attractive farm gate prices for produce and buy in large quantities making it hard to detect counterfeits.
According to Canwat, some of the suspects operate under the cover of darkness to avoid being identified. Harrison Okene, the chairperson Kitgum Produce Dealers’ Association says they are not party to the fraud. Okene explains that besides encouraging farmers to sell produce at designated stores and warehouses, the association is busy sensitizing farmers on how to detect counterfeit bank notes to avoid being cheated.
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Okene says the counterfeits come in the denominations of 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 shillings. He advises farmers to acquire portable and user friendly money detectors, which are readily available on the market.
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The Association has also invited Uganda National Bureau of Standards to check the standards of weighing scales ahead of season.