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Ed Leahy

BY ED LEAHY

Kenya to use inmates for potato harvesting

New scheme in the east-African country will combat worker shortages for its growing potato industry

Kenya to use inmates for potato harvesting

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Kenya will start using prison inmates to help pick its increasingly large potato crop.

The Kenyan government gave the go-ahead to deploy around 30,000 prisoners, as well as 50,000 National Youth Service servicemen and women to help meet the country’s expanding agricultural labour needs.

With exports of Kenyan potatoes rising to meet global demand, the government says the scheme will help reduce the burden on taxpayer budgets for feeding inmates, according to Kenya's Daily Nation.

The project also aims to use around 120,000ha of land owned by prisons and NYS, for large-scale production. Most of Kenyan potatoes are currently grown by around 800,000 small scale farmers.

With a shortage of agricultural labour in Britain only likely to worsen, some have touted a similar idea of utilising prison inmates to help harvest fruit and vegetable, as they once did in the UK until after World War 2.

Justice secretary David Gauke listed horticulture as a priority sector to help prevent reoffending in a strategy paper released last May.

"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 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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