More fruits, vegetables farmed under prisons’ rehab programme

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THE Maraburong Prison in Tutong recently included a few varieties of local vegetables and fruits for commercial farming as part of its rehabilitation programme to cultivate inmates’ skills in agriculture.

Deputy Head of Agriculture and Livestock Farming at the Prisons Department’s Vocational Training Section Hj Ahmad Hj Damit, told _The Brunei Times _that the department recently planted watermelons and tapioca in Maraburong Prison on an approximately 1.5-hectare land.

“We started the mass-scale commercial farming (for fruits) early this month in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood (DAA),” he said during a three-day expo by the Prisons Department at Giant Hypermarket yesterday.

He said that currently there are seven inmates enrolled under the prison’s agriculture programme where they are taught both the theory and practical courses by DAA.

Meanwhile, the agriculture programme at the Jerudong Prison also underwent new development with the recent introduction of the fertigation system for agricultural farming in the prison early this year, said Hj Ahmad.

The fertigation system is a modern method of fertilising in which fertiliser or any water-soluble products are incorporated into an irrigation system that is used to water the plants.

The system is more efficient as it requires less manpower and is less time-consuming while yielding greater harvest than traditional methods.

According to Hj Ahmad, Kulai chillies were the first vegetable to receive treatment under the new method in February.

This was followed by the planting of calamansi trees in April and longan and soursop last month at the Jerudong Prison.

“Earlier this month, we planted tomatoes using the fertigation system._ InsyaAllah _we can enjoy its harvest in the next two months,” said Hj Ahmad.

He added that the prison has also planted other vegetables including lady’s fingers, spinach, white radish, and local leafy varieties which are meant for sale.

“We sell these produce not only during exhibitions or expos like this, but also within the department, with consumers comprising personnel, visitors as well as inmates’ family members,” said Hj Ahmad, who is also a chief officer at the department.

InsyaAllah, in line with enhancing the department’s (agricultural) programmes, in the near future we are also planning to implement a new system called aquaponics for inmates to learn and apply their farming skills.”

The Agriculture and Livestock Farming of the department’s Vocational Training Section is selling vegetables and fruits such as bananas, mangoes, coconuts and calamansi at the expo which will end today.

The Brunei Times