By Wezzie Gausi (The Daily Times )

21 November, 2022

As the Malawi Prison Service continues to struggle to feed inmates, with K99 million remaining for food rations between now and March 31 2023, a non-governmental organisation has suggested that revamping prison farms is key to addressing the problem of food shortage. The development comes at a time the Malawi Prison Service has been lobbying Parliament to revise upwards, by K786 million, its food rations budget for it to cater for its needs.

However, Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance Executive Director Victor Mhango feels that increasing the allocation is only a short-term solution. "The long-term solution entails revamping prison farms. During the Dr Kamuzu Banda era, prisons used to produce enough food for themselves. What is needed is the financial support to the prison for the officials to purchase equipment such as tractors so as to ease the workload on inmates. "If prisons are adequately funded, the issue of hunger in prisons will be a thing of the past. There will be enough to feed themselves and other produce can be sold," Mhango said.

Commissioner of Prisons responsible for Operations Masauko Wiscot said the Malawi Prison Service has been longing to have the farms revamped. He said revamping the farms is the only way through which prisons can sustain themselves. "We have the capacity to produce more than enough. We complain of hunger every year because we do not produce on our own," Wiscot said.

The Malawi Prison Service is currently holding an average of 16,700 inmates in its 32 establishments spread across the country against a holding capacity of 7,322 inmates, which translates into 129 percent congestion rate.