Prisons get food security boost

Prisons get food security boost

Malawi Prison Service says government has increased its budget allocation from K448 million to K1.4 billion for the country’s prisons to grow maize to enhance food security in the facilities.

Speaking in an interview yesterday, Prison Service national spokesperson Chimwemwe Shaba said the budget allocation will go towards what he termed ‘mega farms project’ implemented by prisons.

“Government has increased its budgetary allocation for our normal farming from K448 million to K1.4 billion and for mega farms from K100 million to K500 million,” he said.

Shaba said previously their farm produce was not enough to cater for the population of inmates due to inadequate farming area and climate change effects.

He said: “The average area of cultivation has been hovering around 500 hectares [ha] for four years and the harvest averaged 1 190 metric tonnes (MT).

Truckloads of maize for prisons

“But now, we have secured additional 500 hectares at Kamwanjiwa in Mzimba and another 100ha at Linyangwa in Kasungu as an initiative to increase production.”

Shaba further said MPS signed an agreement with government to supply labour to the mega farms and in return get a percentage of the farm produce.

He said: “Mega farms are not our own initiative. Government gives us inputs and we get 20 percent of the produce. This is a positive development as it adds up on our normal produce.”

According to the initial communication on the agreement posted on Prison Service’s Facebook page, Linyangwa, Mpyupyu and Mzimba prisons have been earmarked to implement the farming project.

In a separate interview, Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance executive director Victor Chagunyuka Mhango commended government for the initiative.

He said: “This is a positive development for MPS. However, I wish if they empowered them with enough capital like machinery since the usual hand hoeing cannot be more productive. This will help the prisons to be able to feed themselves in the near future.

“The idea of prisons being part of running mega farms is good. It shows that government is thinking outside the box. We plead with government to increase the allocation to 40 percent because 20 percent is not enough.”

During 2022/23 growing season, Prison Service realised 309.6MT of maize from 115ha farms cultivated by Mikuyu and Mpyupyu prisons.

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