Her Excellency the First Lady Mrs. Fatima Bio has expressed interest in helping develop Agriculture in the Sierra Leone Correctional Service (SLCS).
Her interest came to the fore when she was contacted by the Director of the Simiria Agricultural Development Organization- Mr. Abdulai Bah. He told her that his organization has been working with the SLCS since 2017. He revealed that SADO’s partnership with the SLCS has yielded some productivity on the soils of the Mafanta Correctional Centre, three miles of Magburaka town, Tonkolili District.
He informed the First Lady that they had ploughed seventy (70) acres of land, of which 40 acres of rice, 10 of sorghum, and 20 of cassava have already been cultivated, with limited workforce and machinery; the centre also has cattle and pig pen, which he intends to extend.
Having heard this, Mrs. Fatima Bio instructed her filming crew from the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) Television to cruise to the Mafanta Correctional Centre and film interviews with the Director of SADO, the Officer- in- Charge there, and take cut- away shots of the plantation. The documentary will soon be aired on the SLBC TV, for public view.
Chief Superintendent of Corrections (CSC) Joseph Senessie, who is the Officer- in- Charge of the Mafanta Correctional Centre said he looked forward to a fruitful and lasting partnership with the First Lady, adding all he has been engaged in since he was transferred to Mafanta “is farming”.
“I have immense passion for farming; maybe it’s because I studied Agricultural Science at the University. I believe that, among other things, if we concentrate on plantation, we will one day become a self- sufficient institution, in terms of providing food for inmates and officers alike. The land we have here is five hundred and fifty acres (557). We have yet to cultivate half of that,”_ CSC Senessie explained.
Asked whether inmates were involved in the work, CSC Senessie said “yes”, informing that all the inmates who were involved in the farm work had been placed on earning scheme. This means inmates receive incentive for their involvement.
“In fact, bank accounts have been opened for some of them. As soon as we start harvesting and selling, certain amount of money will be deposited in their bank accounts. And let me add that we’re not forcing them to work. We seek their consent and tell them what they stand to gain should they join in. Besides, the International Labour Organization Convention concerning Forced Labour No 29 Article 2 (2) posits: Nevertheless, for the purpose of this Convention, the term forced labour shall not include any work or service exacted from any person as a consequence of a conviction in a court of law…,” CSC Senessie enlightened.