The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) has revealed that it has the potential to  produce enough food to feed inmates and surplus for sale if it is capacitated with irrigation facilities at its 23 farms countrywide.

An Officers Commanding and Farm Managers Indaba is currently underway in Masvingo where the ZPCS has put its 23 farms dotted across the country under scrutiny.

In the 2016-17 season, the organisation planted 671 hectares of maize under the Command Agriculture Scheme, with an additional 166 hectares funded internally.

ZPCS Commissioner General, Retired Major General Paradzayi Zimondi said the major drawback in their farming activities is lack of irrigation facilities as only two of the 23 farms have that infrastructure.

“We cannot have the inmates continuing to feed on taxpayers money. If we have irrigation they can work. We have the land and we have the inmates as labour and from our officers, we have those skilled,” he added.

The Minister of State in Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Office, Cde Clifford Sibanda said apart from cropping, the ZPCS is ready to come on board with a command livestock scheme.

The Minister said the prison services have the required facilities and expertise for the successful implementation of this scheme, adding that the government is ready to render the necessary support.

“Looking at livestock, you will realise that the ZPCS has quite a big herd of cattle particularly in Bulawayo. We will be able to capacitate them especially to address issues of in breeding by providing artificial insemination,” he said.

The three-day farming indaba will see officials from the ZPCS coming up with planning strategies for the 2017-18 agricultural season, as well as engaging stakeholders who can assist in improving their operations.