The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) plans to venture into commercial production of mbanje (cannabis) at Chiredzi Prison to raise revenue to stave off pressure and over-reliance on the fiscus.
ZPCS has since formally applied to the Government for a licence to grow mbanje, among other projects earmarked for Masvingo Province.
Officer Commanding ZPCS Masvingo Senior Assistant Commissioner Social Ndanga last week said his organisation was conducting feasibility studies to establish the efficacy of mbanje production in the Lowveld.
“We are carrying out feasibility studies at the moment to see whether we can commercially grow cannabis in the Lowveld because our target is to reduce our reliance on the national fiscus by generating our own revenue as an organisation.
“Cannabis production is just but one of several income-generating projects that we are considering in line with devolution.
“We are also identifying potential income-generating projects within our province so that we go for them instead of just folding our hands and waiting for Government to do everything for us.
“What we are doing is out of the realisation that Government has a lot of responsibilities, we need to think outside the box as Zimbabweans and device methods of revenue generation and remove pressure from the national purse.’’
Snr Asst Comm Ndanga said cannabis production was potentially lucrative because of the herb’s proven medicinal use.
“We do not intend to produce cannabis for prisoners, but one of the requirements of the Ministry of Health and Child Care is that for a mbanje growing licence to be issued, there has to be guarantees of security and availability of land and Chiredzi Prison is secure enough for the herb to be grown while land is also available,” he said.
Besides mbanje, Snr Asst Comm Ndanga said his organisation had applied for land to grow sugar cane in the Lowveld to generate revenue.