According to USDA Spokesperson, Mike Illenberg, the agency was intentionally using fake names to test the function of their website, but forgot to remove Wakanda after the testing was completed.
“Over the past few weeks, the Foreign Agricultural Service staff who maintain the Tariff Tracker have been using test files to ensure that the system is running properly. The Wakanda information should have been removed after testing and has now been taken down,” Illenberg said.
The mistake was first noticed by Jain Family institute fellow Francis Tseng, who was browsing the agency’s website on Wednesday morning to research how trade deal tariffs can affect food distribution.
That’s when he saw Wakanda listed on the site, thought it had apparently been there as far back as June 10, according to NBC News.
If the Wakanda listing was on the site for several months without having been noticed, it can be assumed that the system must not be getting much use.
Wakanda is listed as a US free trade partner on the USDA website?? pic.twitter.com/xcq1OFTIPh
— Francis Tseng (@frnsys) December 18, 2019
I definitely did a double take. I Googled Wakanda to make sure it was actually fiction, and I wasn’t misremembering. I mean, I couldn’t believe it,” Tseng said.
“I was trying to figure out whether this is someone at the USDA making a joke or if it’s a developer who accidentally left it in,” he added.
There was also data associated with the fictional listing, which included commodity listings like a price of 0.5 cent/kg for yellow potatoes.