Home Agriculture Inmates at Ragem Prison Farm Find Opportunity in Cotton Farming

Inmates at Ragem Prison Farm Find Opportunity in Cotton Farming

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Inmates at Ragem Prison Farm Find Opportunity in Cotton Farming
Inmates at Ragem Prison Farm Find Opportunity in Cotton Farming
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Inmates at Ragem Prison Farm, located in Pakwach district, are discovering a new path to rehabilitation through cotton farming. James Kabuye, serving a two-year sentence for theft, found himself in an unfamiliar environment when he was transferred from Luzira Maximum Security prison to this prison farm about 400 kilometers away. Despite initial reluctance, Kabuye’s life took a positive turn as he learned to cultivate cotton.

Even within the confines of prison, Kabuye has managed to financially support his family. He has earned approximately 300,000 Ugandan shillings through cotton farming during his one-year sentence. This income has enabled him to pay his son’s tuition fees and plan for a future in cotton farming once he is released.

A law signed by the internal affairs minister in 2000 ensures that prisoners engaged in labor, whether for private or government projects, receive compensation for their work. The compensation varies based on the skill level of the prisoner, with skilled prisoners earning 1,398 shillings per day, semi-skilled prisoners receiving 699 shillings per day, and non-skilled prisoners engaged in tasks like digging earning 280 shillings per day. This payment system motivates prisoners to work and aligns with the shift in prisons’ focus from penal punishment to correctional rehabilitation.

Dr. Johnson Byabashaija, the commissioner general of Uganda Prisons Service, highlighted the shift in the prison’s focus towards commercial cotton farming. Cotton cultivation has become essential due to a presidential directive aimed at boosting cotton production and reducing the dependence on imported second-hand clothes. With 60,000 acres of arable land and extensive farming experience, the prison’s department is well-positioned to contribute to this effort.

Uganda Prisons Service has committed to producing one million bales of cotton per season, supporting the East African Regional Integration goal of reducing used clothing imports. By dedicating 44,000 acres of their arable land to cotton farming, the prison’s department is taking significant steps to meet the growing demand for cotton in the country’s textile manufacturing sector.