Tech demo farms set up by convicts to have harvests next month

THE first technology demonstration farms developed by inmates through the partnership of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Justice (DoJ) will yield crops next month with an estimated value of P7.3 million, the DA said.

The 4.5-hectare demo farm in Iwahig, Palawan, is expected to yield 96.8 metric tons of rice, watermelon, melon, eggplant, tomatoes, red chili pepper, pole sitao, cucumber, okra, squash, patola, ampalaya and sweet corn in December.

The planting season for the crops started from August to September.

“Proceeds from the farm will be used by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to expand its agricultural development activities by using idle lands to support the government’s food security campaign,” DA said on Monday.

The DA and DoJ signed the agreement in July for the program that involves training persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) to till idle farmlands of BuCor.

Since July, at least 70 inmates or PDLs have been trained in the production of high-value crops and rice through the Initiative for Sustainable Environment for Food Security or DAxDOJ RISE Project.

The DA said the first phase of the project is being implemented with private sector partners who also support the inclusion of PDLs in the value chain and make them rise again as they reintegrate to mainstream society.

“Meanwhile, the Project’s Phase 2, covering at least 500 hectares, has already started with the training of 50 PDLs for cashew production. They will use 30 hectares of BuCor land for the project,” DA added.

The DAxDOJ RISE Project is implemented by the Bureau of Plant Industry, High Value Crops Development Program, and the National Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Program, led by Director Gerald Glenn Panganiban.

It is also expected to promote social inclusion, address issues, and meet key sustainable development goals like climate change adaptation and poverty alleviation.

On the other hand, DA’s banner programs committed assistance for the development of 25 hectares of land for corn production; 200 hectares for pasture; 200 hectares for cattle and goat; 40 hectares for rice; one hectare for agri-tourism; and 0.5 hectare for tilapia production.

“Through this project, the complementary goals of DA and BuCor on food security and reformation of PDLs, respectively, are being realized,” DA said.

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