Fixed telecommunications company, TelOne has helped 15 Chikurubi inmates acquire agricultural skills, which it hopes will assist them re-integrate into society after being released from prison.
The 15 inmates graduated Tuesday as foresters with a nursery, seedling and orchard management and production certificate.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony at Chikurubi Maximum Prison yesterday, acting TelOne managing director, Lawrence Nkala said: “We are positive that the programme has equipped our graduates with the knowledge and skills that will be useful as the inmates reintegrate into society after serving their respective sentences.”
The course content included woodlot establishment and management, fruit tree production, management of fruit trees, budding and grafting, bee keeping and financial management.
The 15 inmates included five females and 10 males. Three prison officers also graduated.
TelOne paid for the cost of the consumables, while Nyaradzo Group were the technical partners.
The training was a culmination of the TelOne and the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) partnership that was forged in 2016. TelOne has since spent US$20 000 on the project.
The programme is expected to earn income for the prison as 60 000 seedlings were produced during the training project and 20 000 seedlings will be distributed to 200 schools across the country.
“We are of the conviction that with increased effort from us all, ZPCS could easily make in excess of US$50 000 per annum from tree seedling sales,” Nkala said.
The prisoners’ graduation ceremony also coincided with the National Tree Planting Day commemorations which are running under the theme Trees and Forests for Ecosystem Restoration and Improved Livelihoods.
The emphasis on ecosystem restoration is hinged on the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) policy, a global initiative to eradicate effects of climate change.