Iwahig inmates tapped for DA farming initiative

Palawan - Some 495 inmates at the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF) here are taking part in a farming initiative to ensure the availability of healthy food in the Bureau of Corrections- (BuCor) managed facility. Superintendent Gary Garcia on Saturday led the persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) as they took part in the seedling preparation and soil cultivation of a 62-hectare land within the facility set aside for vegetable and rice planting. The PDL's actively participating in the food security effort are residents of Iwahig's minimum and medium security wings. IPPF spokesperson Levi Evengelista said 60 hectares will be used for planting rice while the remaining two hectares will be utilized for cultivating vegetables. The agricultural initiative is part of an agreement recently signed by the BuCor, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and private companies. BuCor's partners in the project provided seedlings and shared technology in the cultivation of rice and vegetables. "The PDLs were escorted by IPPF corrections officers, taking time away from their office duties to contribute to the intensive preparations for planting rice and vegetables," Evangelista said. On Monday, the inmates will begin planting vegetables and rice using a mechanized transplanting machine. Planting two hectares will only take about two hours using the machine, added Evangelista. BuCor Director General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. signed an agreement with DA and several private companies on Aug. 18 for the establishment of a demonstration farm for the Reformation Initiative for Sustainable Environment for Food Security (RISE) program. Catapang said the project is aimed at improving "efficiency and relevance of individuals who are incarcerated" aside from ensuring food availability. Should current efforts prove successful, the PDLs will be given a much larger piece of land within the penal farm, spanning over 500 hectares, to cultivate. Evangelista explained that inmates participating in RISE were selected based on their planting skills and training with the Farm Teach of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. "This also signifies the revival of the farming practice within the penal farm. Although it has been ongoing, it hasn't been as enthusiastic in recent years due to the lack of personnel who would supervise the PDLs while they engage in planting activities," he explained. He said participation will lead to additional points for their good conduct time allowance (GCTA) while the BuCor is also considering compensation or gratuities. The IPPF is known for its unique approach to incarceration, which emphasizes agricultural and self-sustaining activities as a means of rehabilitation for inmates

Source: Philippines News Agency