Kitgum, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Internal Affairs Minister, Mario Kania Obiga launched the Uganda Prisons cotton farm in Orom-Tikao government prisons in Kitgum district.
The farm sits on a 7,200 acre of land in Tikao village Gule parish in Orom sub county that was offered by the community free of charge.
Speaking at the launch of the farm, Obiga said it follows President Yoweri Museveni`s directive in 2015 that Uganda prison services be the main producer of cotton for Uganda.
According to Obiga, the president directed the prisons services to acquire land and start moving towards cotton production for Uganda on 44,000 acres in the near future because they have a huge labor force.
Obiga explained that Uganda is moving towards reviving cotton production because it is a strategic crop for the economy as it creates opportunities for farming, ginning, spinning, weaving threads and garment making and employment.
Johnson Byabashaija, the Commissioner General of Uganda Prisons, said President Museveni gave Uganda Prisons services a target of 44,000 acres of cotton to revive the textile industry.
He explained that in the first season of 2016 they produced 261 acres of cotton as a pilot and in the second season produced 2,359 acres and in 2018 they planted 4,600 acres of cotton respectively.
According to Byabashaija, they intend to plant 5000 acres this financial year and hope to achieve the 44,000 acres by the year 2025.
He says cotton farming is being done in partnership with Cotton Development Organization for technical supports. Shem Lwanga, the Officer In-charge of Orom-Tikao prisons, says 500 acres of cotton and 100 acres of maize were planted last year.
Margaret Orik Obonyo, the Northern Region Prisons Commander told URN that they planted 1,700 acres of maize this year in Lugore government prisons in Gulu district for commercial purposes.
Cotton was introduced in Uganda in 1953 as a mandatory cash crop. Every household was required to produce at least half an acre but this has been affected by population growth that led to land fragmentation.
By 1953, Uganda produced 470,000 bales of cotton annually however by 2018 it had drastically reduced to 70,000 bales.