Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
The Agricultural Rural Development Authority yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services that will see the two institutions venturing into farming activities at the prison farms to boost national food security.
The ZPCS has 24 farms and Arda has identified 16 000 hectares for potential farming activities.
The MoU was signed by Arda acting chief executive, Mr Willard Mbona and Mr Josphat Sachikonye who represented the ZPCS commercial company, Pamberi Qhubekani.
ZPCS Commissioner-General Retired Major-General Paradzai Zimondi said the institution had 24 farms with arable land, labour and experienced staff and was willing to partner with willing companies and individuals interested in farming.
“When I visited some Arda farms in Bulawayo, I was convinced that we could engage them for business since we have a lot of under-utilised lands.
“We are pleased Government gave us the go-ahead to venture into partnerships. We are glad to partner with Arda, a local parastatal and we hope through the joint venture we will be able to fully utilise the farms,” he said.
Comm-Gen Zimondi said the farms will also be a training ground for inmates rehabilitation as they acquire skills that can be used after release from prison.
Arda chairman, Mr Basil Nyabadza said the authority had potential investors for the production of cereals, horticulture, plantations and livestock.
“We believe under the public private partnerships, we can jointly extract the value from land and resources availed to us.
“Arda will bring in investors, expertise and resources and this will see prisons becoming sources of food for prisoners and the nation as a whole. This is one of the goals of the Government’s 10-Point Plan,” he said.
Mr Sachikonye expressed gratitude to Arda for unveiling the deal which will see prison farms being put to use.
“The partnership gives us the opportunity to contribute to the national food basket. We have been yearning and longing for partnerships. I am confident the venture will give us the intended results,” he said.
Government is working on ensuring all institutions with land are supported with machinery and equipment to boost agricultural production and enhance food security and nutrition.
The institutions will also be expected to produce seed with others producing livestock.
Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made has said all institutions with land must be facilitated by machinery including irrigation equipment to boost agricultural production and productivity.
Institutions such as prisons, universities and colleges with land, churches and Government institutions such as the Arda will be assisted with machinery.