Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) Matabeleland North Province harvested 100 tonnes of maize this farming season, after a boost by the Command Agriculture programme.
About 30 tonnes of the grain was produced from five hectares financed under the national project.
ZPCS acting officer commanding Matabeleland North Assistant Commissioner Mollie Nkomo told stakeholders during a tour at the prisons’ Anju farm in Nyamandlovu on Monday that the Command Agriculture programme had been a great success.
The 100 tonnes of maize harvested at the prison farm comprises 60 tonnes of grain to feed prisons and, 30 tonnes of grain under the Command Agriculture program, as well as 10 tonnes of grain under the Isiphala Senkosi revival, a pilot project that they partnered on with the National Aids Council to assist chiefs.
“We are very satisfied with what we have achieved through the programme. Of course there were challenges such as the fall armyworm outbreak that destroyed some of our crop. It was really one of our major setbacks, but we, however managed to procure chemicals early and managed to save our crops,” said Ass Comm Nkomo.
“We also faced water logging due to the incessant rains in some parts of the province but we are very happy that we still managed to rise above all those problems,” she said.
“Under Command Agriculture, the Government allocated us seed, fertilisers, diesel and herbicides and we only supplemented with a few inputs. We made sure that since the Government had entrusted us to produce we shouldn’t disappoint and we didn’t.”
Ass Comm Nkomo said they had plans to expand their work under Command Agriculture in the next planting season as the project has proved to be viable.
“This coming planting season we are expanding. Command Agriculture is the way. We have done it. It has worked for us,” she said.
The 30 tonne Command Agriculture produce, Ass Comm Nkomo pointed out, was planted on five hectares of land. She said the Government required that farmers produce five tonnes of maize grain per hectare.
“We have exceeded Government expectations and we are excited about it. We managed to yield six tonnes per hectare, and this could have even been more. Had it not been for the fall army worm, we could have surpassed Government’s requirement by an even wider margin,” said the Assistant Commissioner.
The prison also grows sugar beans, butternuts, melons, pumpkins and cow peas under irrigation for sale and feeding inmates.