Crop production in Mt. Elgon region (Uganda) generates a significant amount of crop residues (CR) that have for a long time been considered as ‘trash’ or agricultural waste. This neglect is due, in part, to the absence of a clear institutional framework governing utilization of CR. This paper presents a case for understanding of institutions that govern practices of CR utilization. It adopts the Institutional Analysis and Development framework to trace the evolution of institutional mechanisms governing utilization of CR; review the role of current institutional arrangements in influencing CR utilization among farming households; and recommend options that bolster household actions towards the utilization of CR. A synthesis of colonial institutional frameworks including bylaws showed that farmers were encouraged to engage in several soil conservation practices. Strict enforcement of these laws weakened after independence and almost collapsed with successive regimes. There is still a lack of an appropriate institutional framework at local level to influence the utilization of CR in Mt. Elgon region. The paper argues that proper institutional frameworks that penalize improper land use and incentivize better land use practices; build the capacity of farmers through awareness raising programs; and encourage better technologies for CR handling and storage should be strengthened.
Key words: Crop residues, policies, smallholder farmers, Mt. Elgon Uganda.
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