THE Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) aims to stockpile adequate food reserves using its own initiatives outside government budgetary allocations in order to feed its estimated 22 000 inmates.
The envisaged scenario comes on the back of a projected bumper wheat harvest from over 160 hectares under the cereal on ZPCS farms dotted countrywide.
Addressing journalists during a tour of Hurungwe Prison Farm Tuesday, ZPCS Commissioner General, Moses Chihobvu, expressed optimism his institution will produce enough food through agricultural activities to wade off hunger among prisoners and wardens.
“We are targeting to be food self-sufficient through farming ventures at our many prison farms across the country,” said Chihobvu.
He reiterated ZPCS is playing a pivotal role in the attainment of the National Development Strategy (NDS 1) by ensuring prisoners get food.
“The fact that we are producing food for inmates which was supposed to be purchased by the government, we are also contributing to the breadbasket and NDS 1,” added the ZPCS boss.
The commissioner-general said due to the expected wheat bumper harvest, ZPCS has already set up traditional bakeries that are baking bread for prisoners and staff.
“We are in the process of finding partners so that we produce bread. However, as of last week we managed to come up with these traditional bakeries where we are now making bread in most provinces, including Matebeleland North, Binga and Chikurubi, among others.
“If we manage to satisfy our inmates’ and officers’ demands, then we can commercialise bread making.”
All prisons are expected to embark on bakery projects following an abundance of wheat which they will reap in a few days.
So far, Hurungwe Prison Farm has 90ha under wheat and experts project a yield of four tonnes per hectare.
This year’s winter wheat will be produced from 90 192ha which is 100 percent of the target area of 90 000ha, compared to 80 000 hectares last year, ensuring that Zimbabwe will not only exceed the self-sufficiency attained last year for the first time ever, but should have wheat for export.
This harvest is expected to produce 420 000 tonnes of the cereal, well above the 375 000 tonnes achieved last year and the minimum of 360 000 tonnes needed for self-sufficiency.
Hurungwe Prison Farm’s chief manager, Principal Correctional Officer Hapson Masocha, lamented Quelea birds had ravaged part of the wheat crop although the situation was put under control.
He, however, said plans were afoot to expand the area under irrigation emphasising that a team from the irrigation department visited the farm to assess the capacity of the facility, which is surrounded by two vast water bodies and various underground water source points.
“The department did a survey and a feasibility study that showed we can add the irrigable area by 346 hectares to make it 441 hectares,” said Masocha.
The farm has also faced the challenges of a broken-down pump that made it impossible to supply its crops with the required moisture content.
The farm is expected to harvest four tonnes of wheat per hectare and above eight tonnes of maize per hectare under irrigation, in addition to cabbages, onions, tomatoes and other vegetable crops. – NewZim