Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
KHAMI Medium Prison Farm, which is situated on the outskirts of Bulawayo, has adopted an enviable integrated farming model which is providing supplementary feeding for about 4 000 inmates in Bulawayo Metropolitan Province’s five prisons.
The farm, which is owned by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) has stepped up efforts to enhance food production.
Last year, Khami Medium Farm’s Boer buck (Boer goat) weighing 80kg won the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show National Grand Champion during the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.
The Boer goat is a special breed. Unlike other breeds that are bred for milk production or wool fibre, the Boer goat is reared for meat.
A survey among established local breeders shows that a Boer goat fetches from around US$250 to US$350, with a buck going for as high as US$600, making it a compelling investment route for a commercial farmer.
The Boer goat also crosses well with local breeds making investment into a buck a worthy investment for a farmer seeking to improve their breed.
Khami Medium Prison Farm has been turned into an integrated agricultural enterprise aimed at achieving food self-sufficiency at Bulawayo Prison, Mlondozi, Khami Remand, Medium and Maximum prisons. The farm draws water from Khami Dam.
The 2 577-hectare farm has an arable land of 61 hectares, which is being utilised for the production of a wide range of horticultural produce, cotton and winter wheat under the Command Agriculture Scheme.
A total of 2 102 hectares has been set aside for livestock production which include piggery, rabbitry, dairy and cattle ranching.
The farm is home to a herd of 252 cattle of which 56 are dairy cows, 93 Boer goats, 102 pigs, 100 rabbits and nine horses, which are used for security patrols.
Seventy percent of the produce realised at the farm is channelled towards feeding inmates while the remaining 30 percent goes to the market in Bulawayo and surrounding communities as a way of generating income to assist in the day to day operations at the institutions.
Khami Medium Prison Farm is self-funding and produces goat meat, pork, cowpeas and sugar beans to supplement the diet of inmates and for commercial purposes.
The farm has also registered under the Presidential Livestock Scheme and will soon receive 100 piglets.
The 77 pigsty units at Khami Medium Prison Farm have a capacity to accommodate at least 1 000 animals.
Cabinet, in a recent meeting, commended the farming model at Khami Prison, saying it has proved to be viable and excellent in terms of providing supplementary feeding to prisoners.
The farming model at the farm is now being replicated at other prisons across the country such as Chikurubi, Gwanda, Connemara and Plumtree prisons with notable progress.
Farm projects manager, Assistant Principal Correctional Officer Charles Chitumbura told Chronicle that they expect to harvest 15 tonnes of wheat from three hectares under the Command Agriculture Scheme.
“We have also planted cotton and sorghum under the Presidential Input Scheme. We also do wheat production under Command Agriculture and currently we have put three hectares under winter wheat,” he said.
Assistant Principal Correctional Officer Chitumbura said out of the 61 hectares for crop production, 16 hectares of land is under irrigation. They use drip and overhead irrigation.
“We partnered Voluntary Service Overseas, a Swiss organisation in the project and they funded our water works infrastructure in the form of irrigation equipment,” he said.
“We are also into the 100-day cycle of the food enhancement programme. It is a Government initiative to reinvigorate performances in the public sector and maximise on production.”
He said the projects at the farm are meant to provide the nutritive and rehabilitative needs of inmates.
“On the rehabilitative aspect, we impart good agricultural practices to our inmates so that they successfully reintegrate into the society upon release and reduce unemployment, recidivism and at the same time it will help them to be law abiding citizens,” he said.
According to sections 50 and 52 of the Prisons Regulations Act, inmates have a dietary scale.
“For instance, if it is mealie-meal, green vegetables and tomatoes we feed the inmates with 200 grams per meal for a single ration. If it is double ration, we give them 300 grammes per inmate and also supply 30 to 40 tonnes of meat to our inmates to meet the protein requirement,” said Assistant Principal Correctional Officer Chitumbura.
He said they also sell Boer goats for breeding, beef, horticulture products like butternuts, green maize and other vegetables.
“We also have challenges which include high production costs, climate change brings new pests and diseases, power outages especially in winter affect our operations, especially in terms of fertilisation during winter production. We also have an issue of inorganic fertilisers and we have therefore adopted an integrated soil fertility management system and this means whatever garbage we get from horticultural or food crops, we feed to our livestock,” said Assistant Principal Correctional Officer Chitumbura.
“We also get manure from our livestock and do some compost and integrate the use of organic and inorganic fertilisers.”
Plans are underway, he said, to introduce fish farming and poultry.
“Feed is one of the major cost drivers and we have adopted a least cost combination and we buy stale bread and cereal grain at Delta Beverages at low cost and we then mix it with concentrates and feed the pigs,” he said.
The farm produces between 18 000 and 20 000 litres of milk every year. However, due to inbreeding depreciation, the quantities have declined and they require artificial insemination. — @mashnets