Dodds Prison is aiming to spice up its food security and maintain a high level of food self-sufficiency, farm manager Valiance Holder said on Tuesday.
Along with a plan to accumulate two greenhouses, he said efforts were underway to expand crop and livestock production.
Following the graduation ceremony for five inmates and five prison officers who accomplished an aquaculture farming course, Holder told Barbados TODAY that about 90 per cent of the produce grown at the power in St Philip is used on the prison.
Sweet potatoes, cassavas, yams, pumpkins, cucumbers, carrots, squash, tomatoes, watermelons, chives, parsley, turmeric, and marjoram are planted on a ten to 12-acre plot of land, while Blackbelly sheep, Landrace and Large White (breeds of pigs) and Redpoll cows are also reared on the compound.
Holder said plans were in train to restart raising broilers.
He reported that two major COVID-19 outbreaks on the prison last 12 months had resulted in a discount in the quantity of labour designated to the farm; nonetheless, the inmates were, in some instances, still capable of produce a surplus and produce was donated to the neighbouring Male Unit of the Government Industrial School in addition to the St Philip District Hospital.
With a donation of $50 000 from the Maria Holder Memorial Trust, the prison was capable of arrange an aquaculture centre for fish farming and growing crops like lettuce and sweet basil.
Holder said this may further improve the prison’s food security because the inmates could now grow tilapia to eat while concurrently growing crops that could possibly be difficult to grow within the open field.
The farm manager explained that the aquaculture course can be rotated on a three-month basis and the five inmates who just graduated can be required to coach ten others in each rotation.
In his remarks on the graduation ceremony, Acting Superintendent of Prisons DeCarlo Payne said he was pleased with the success of the aquaculture programme which began in 2021 but attributable to challenges related to COVID-19 took some time to get off the bottom.
He said the training would turn out to be useful for the inmates on their release as they might develop their very own aquaculture businesses and never should depend on anyone to rent them.
Payne said he wanted other inmates to get on board the programme – especially because it was being supported by the Fisheries Division and the Barbados Trust Fund – and contribute to the economy in a meaningful way when their sentences were accomplished.
Aquaculture expert Kristina Adams trained the inmates and prison officers and said she was impressed with the drive and energy they gave the project, in addition to their determination to maintain it going when COVID-19 hampered its progress. (SZB)