Weird news: Kenyan govt to use prison inmates for potato production

According to the Kenyan news publication Daily Nation, the government in that country has rolled out a project that will see the Prisons Department and the National Youth Service (NYS) take active part in potato production.

It involves deploying 30,000 inmates and 50,000 National Youth Service men and women to scale up potato seed production. Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and his Public Service counterpart, Margaret Kobia, recently launched this potato initiative, starting with a seed production centre at the 350-acre Tumaini NYS station in Nyandarua County.

Among the benefits envisaged are feeding thousands of inmates and NYS recruits. According to the National Potato Council of Kenya, only 160,000 hectares are under the crop, 83 percent of this by small-scale farmers.

The new project targets raising production from 275 metric tonnes to 4,390 by raising certified seeds production from three percent to 10 percent of demand by next year.

“Workplace ROTL (Release On Temporary Licence) will be an important tool for building ‘win-win’ partnerships with employers in priority sectors such as catering, construction and agriculture/horticulture,” the strategy states. 

“For prisoners, workplace ROTL is a chance to develop their skills, boost their CV’s and make an impression on potential employers. As such, it is a key tool for prisoner rehabilitation. For employers, these placements provide an opportunity to evaluate the skills and work ethic of the prisoners involved. When successful, this can help fill skills gaps, or labour shortages in the short-term, while developing potential employees in the longer term.”

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