Those serving time at Yerwada open prison are putting it to good use. They are growing organic vegetables that are supplied to different jails in the State after prison administration provided them with a five guntha land for this purpose.
“We have just erected a greenhouse and decided to experiment with organic tomatoes. The yield is coming up,” informed R V Kamble, superintendent of Yerwada open jail.
The facility has a drip irrigation system and the plants are mainly fertilised with vermicompost.
“We have seven vermicompost pits and a huge cow shed. The shed houses about 30 cows and their dung is used as manure for the plants. The jail is self-reliant when it comes to yield and consumption,” Kamble added.
Not only is the manure used in the greenhouse, but also in an open field where inmates grow cabbage and other vegetables. “Very little fertiliser is used on our farms, but those are mainly used for foodgrains,” Kamble further explained.
The vegetables grown are supplied to Yerwada Central Prison and the women’s prison. If there is a surplus yield, it is sent to other jails within the state.
“We have also informed inmates, a majority of whom are convicts, of the benefits and importance of organic farming,” he said adding 150 of them are involved in the project.
Barring a few, all inmates are engaged in the agricultural activities. “They have been trained to handle different agricultural equipment, farming techniques and taught about different types of yields,” Kamble said.
At present, only tomatoes are being grown in the greenhouse, but the jail administration also plans to grow other vegetables such as cabbage in near future, Kamble said, emphasising that the yield was healthy and everyone should benefit from it as it is free from chemicals.
Kamble also said that the prison did not have a nursery and the new facility would come in handy for this purpose. “Last year, we grew 1,500 trees in the open. This year, with the help of a nursery, the jail is determined to plant as many as 5,000 trees,” he said. He also said that Deputy Inspector General (Prisons) Rajendra Dhamane, who is in-charge of the plantation drive, is keen to plant maximum number of trees during the monsoon.
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