A Learning Platform for CF Mechanized Minimum Tillage CA practices were first introduced to Ibuga Prison Farm in Kasese district - Western Region during second planting season of 2012. Ibuga established 5Ha of CF-MT mechanized ripping from which it realized 3.2 tons of maize grain per acre compared to the 2.2 tons realized under conventional tillage with same treatment (same seed variety with fertilizer application).
The CA block prompted visits from the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries (MAAIF), Minister of Internal Affairs, Commissioner of Prisons and a delegation from the Faculty of Agriculture- Makerere University who saw for the first time a Ndume tractor ripper and were impressed with the performance of the crop. 3 years down the road, Ibuga Prison Farm has turned out to be a Conservation Farming Model Farm. 50% of its farm land has been converted to CF because of the great benefits.
Jude Kaliisa, the Officer in Charge at the prison farm, talks about Conservation Farming (CF) with a passion. He shares the challenges they had carrying out farming activities before REDS intervention. These included a very short window period between land preparation and planting; high cost of land preparation using 15 liters of fuel to prepare 0.4Ha, 20 days to prepare and plant 160Ha; flooding in some blocks of the farm; heavy soil erosion with visible gullies and; to sum it all the maize yields were low.
Jude was wary of adopting CF because he had a specified tonnage of maize to produce every season under the prison policy. His mind was keenly focused on yield and he did not know that there were other CF benefits for the prison farm. His fears were offset once they realized the yield from the first established block. Jude says, “CF eased crop management in terms of reduced fuel for land preparation by more than 50% (from 15 to 5 liters per acre), time savings in land preparation ripping 40 acres in a day compared to conventional ploughing of 20 acres/day and the controlled flooding and soil erosion leading to efficient utilization of nutrients by the crop.
Ibuga farm has become a learning platform for the inmates and other prison farms in Uganda. Jude is eager to help other prison farms take on CF and already the Prison Services has bought rippers to replicate the CF tractor ripping technology at Rwimi, Kiburara, Isimba, Patiko, Abim and Namalu prison farms.