Plans Being Finalised to Boost Agricultural Production in Correctional Centres

Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson (left), and State Minister in the National Security Ministry, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. (right), are shown a bunch of bananas at the Richmond Farm Adult Correctional Centre in St. Mary, by Rural Agricultural Development Authority Chief Executive Officer, Peter Thompson, during a tour of the institution on Tuesday, August 22.

Story Highlights

  • The Government is finalising plans to expand the utilisation of land and other assets and resources within the correctional system to further boost agricultural production.
  • This move, which is being facilitated through a collaboration between the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, is consistent with the Administration’s undertaking to implement measures and initiatives to further reduce Jamaica’s food import bill by greater utilisation of State-owned assets.
  • The project is slated for initial rollout at the Richmond Farm Adult Correctional Centre in St. Mary, which has approximately 350 acres, of which just over 10 acres are under cultivation. Among the crops produced are banana, corn, plantain and sorrel.

The Government is finalising plans to expand the utilisation of land and other assets and resources within the correctional system to further boost agricultural production.

This move, which is being facilitated through a collaboration between the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, is consistent with the Administration’s undertaking to implement measures and initiatives to further reduce Jamaica’s food import bill by greater utilisation of State-owned assets.

The Department of Correctional Services (DCS), which falls under the Ministry of National Security, and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), an agency of the Agriculture

Ministry, will be the key entities spearheading the implementation of activities incorporated in a work plan being developed by a special committee comprising representatives of both ministries.

It is also anticipated that participants serving custodial sentences, who will eventually become eligible for parole, will benefit from skills training and certification through the National Security

Ministry’s collaboration with the HEART Trust/NTA as well as technical expertise provided by RADA.

These inputs are expected to significantly assist in their rehabilitation and preparation for reintegration into the society.

The project is slated for initial rollout at the Richmond Farm Adult Correctional Centre in St. Mary, which has approximately 350 acres, of which just over 10 acres are under cultivation. Among the crops produced are banana, corn, plantain and sorrel.

In addition, the facility is also engaged in livestock rearing involving pigs and chickens.

The Centre was visited by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, and State Minister in the National Security Ministry, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., on August 22.

Mr. Hutchinson told JIS News that the Ministry is keen on boosting the outputs at Richmond Farm and the other correctional centres, “in making sure that the lands are used to their optimum, so that whatever we need to cut the importation of, we are able to do so”.

To this end, he said inputs such as seeds and other planting materials, as well as fertilisers and insecticides, will be supplied.

Mr. Hutchinson said the project is also consistent with the Administration’s undertaking to put all idle arable State-owned lands under production.

For his part, Senator Charles said the collaboration represents the joined-up inter-ministerial approach in undertaking engagements that will redound to Jamaica’s long-term benefit in the

Government’s pursuit to maximise the utilisation of State-owned assets aimed at “increasing our revenue and decreasing our expenses”.

“I really have to thank Minister Hutchinson. When we reached out to him, immediately he embraced the whole vision, and with him coming on board with the Ministry that has responsibility for agriculture, I believe that for the Department of Correctional Services there is no longer any limit,” he added

Chief Executive Officer of RADA, Peter Thompson, who welcomed the initiative, said the agency stands ready to play its part in the implementation of the project.

He said based on the extent of the collaboration, “there is great interest at heart, which we think will drive the type of production that we anticipate will come in the near future”.

Superintendent in charge of Richmond Farm Adult Correctional Centre, Leroy Allen, who also welcomed the proposed project, said its inputs will serve to significantly boost the out-turn of crops, thereby enabling the institution to make a meaningful contribution to the food security at the facility, community and country as a whole.

The all-male facility, which houses persons convicted for medium-risk offences such as larceny and forgery, has 143 inmates.

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