A year and a half after starting a Cassava Production Project at the Tamarind Farm Correctional Centre, the Department of Correctional Services is planning to increase the current acreage under production to 90 acres, due to the success of the project.
The project, which engages 22 inmates in cassava cultivation, began with an initial 15 acres but the area under cultivation has since increased. Overseer of farms at the
St. Catherine-based prison, Wesley Francis, shared that there are currently five acres ready for reaping and another 30 acres at varying stages of maturity.
To date, 44,000 pounds of cassava have been reaped and sold to companies such as Twickenham Bammies, St. Catherine; Bloomfield Great House, Mandeville; and Jamaica Producers in St. Mary.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (left), is presented with some of the yields from the Tamarind Farm Correctional Centre’s Cassava Production Project by Overseer of farms, Wesley Francis. The Minister visited the facility on February 3.
Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, who visited Tamarind Farm yesterday (February 3) to get a first-hand look at the progress of the project, said he is pleased that the Correctional Services Department had the foresight to capitalise on producing a crop for a market that has been largely underserved. He described participants in the project as “pioneers”.
Commissioner of Corrections, June Spence Jarrett, said that the project is a very effective rehabilitation tool, which has provided inmates with a skill as well as a means of providing for their families.
“They receive a stipend, which is quite important to them. From this, they send it back to their families to support the children and other members, who are dependent on them. What we are trying here is to make sure that we turn the uselessness that society claims they are into usefulness,” she stated.
Mrs. Spence Jarrett informed that the inmates can also access rehabilitation grants to start their own projects when they are released, once they meet certain criteria.
The cassava project is being implemented by the Correctional Services Production Company (COSPROD) with funding from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.