Veronica Gwaze recently in Hurungwe
A harvest of about 600 tonnes of maize is expected by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS)’s Hurungwe Prison Farm this year.
The maize was grown under the Command Agriculture Program and will ensure food security in prisons.
Hurungwe Prison Farm is the largest farm belonging to ZPCS, as it sits on 1 729 hectares of land under ecological region 2B, out of which 1 000 hectares are potentially arable.
Its total irrigable land is 165 hectares, consisting of 80 hectares under the centre pivot and 89 hectares under drip irrigation.
Speaking during a media tour on production and rehabilitation at the farm last week, Deputy Commissioner General Dr Granisia Musango applauded the institution for reaching this year’s target and playing a crucial role in ensuring food security within ZPCS.
“It is pleasing to note that the station is producing enough to meet the food requirements, feeding the other prison stations and selling the surplus (to GMB) for income generation,” she said.
Dr Musango said funds realised from the sale of maize will be ploughed back into the production cycle. During this winter crop season, plans are already under way to put 80 hectares under wheat production and to embark on fish farming.
“The ZPCS has the capacity to produce to self-sustenance levels through the utilisation of the available resources and partnerships with various stakeholders.
“The impartation of agricultural production skills resonates well with our economy which is agro-based hence most of our rehabilitation activities are biased towards farming,” she said.
On the rehabilitation front, the project serves as a vehicle for correcting, reforming and empowering offenders with the requisite knowledge and skills which are key for their socio-economic well-being.
This will also mitigate reoffending, provide sustainable livelihoods to the inmates simultaneously contributing towards the nation’s economic growth and development.
“Such programs as agricultural activities are meant to promote behavioural reform and empowering inmates with life skills in preparation for their successful re-integration into society,” Dr Musango.
Assistant Correctional Principal Officer, Mr Happison Masocha said the bumper harvest, driven by 115 inmates and 103 officers housed at the facility, comes as a result of early preparations.
“Early distribution of the Command (Agriculture) inputs gave us enough time to prepare and we also received enough rains hence the good and impressive works.
“We also have tobacco, a huge garden under drip irrigation and these go a long way in terms of ensuring adequate food within the facility,” he said.
For the next season, the ZPCS says it was geared to plant maize on not less than 250 hectares of maize as this was critical for the livelihoods of many.
An inmate, Basil Chitima, called on Government to consider hiving pieces of land to those who would have completed their sentences and are willing to get into farming. He applauded the ZPCS for the various skills empowerment programs meant to give inmates livelihoods after release.
“Personally, I have learnt a lot here and I am confident that in a few weeks when I am released, farming will be my first choice, hopefully I get the inputs, especially seed.
“I know it is going to be tough especially for those who would have served longer sentences to fit into the community or worse, find employment but with agriculture, it will be much better,” he said.