For many inmates, livelihood opportunities are very scarce especially serving jail time. But this week, the Department of Agriculture (DA) in coordination with the Inmates Welfare Development (IWD) Program of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP9) – Zamboanga City Jail have come up with hands-on demonstration training for food production.
“Our inmates must also be given attention, we can help them change and become productive individuals. This Mushroom Production Training will provide a healthy food alternative; learn food production, and serve as livelihood for income generation.” said Orlando Telmo, Mushroom Head Trainer of DA.

Sixty participants joined the said training, 47 are Male - Inmates and the rest are staff of the BJMP. The training consists of a lecture, visual demonstration and hands-on food preparation demo by the participants.
Telmo said that DA will institute a mushroom shelter inside the City Jail. “In a month’s time, the mushroom will start sprouting, and after a few weeks, they can already harvest, either for consumption or for market. We teach them how to grow the Oyster Mushroom, since it is easy to grow, low cost and one of the healthy foods.” He added.
BJMP Admin S/I Chief Fe Galvez is grateful to DA for extending the assistance at BJMP. She said that this is the first training for the year that the IWD had conducted. Galvez said that “one of the priorities of the IWD program is to provide inmates with transferable livelihood skills which are vital in the reformation process.”
Galvez said that the inmates’ cases are already on trial and some waiting for promulgation. “They have a great chance to get out of jail soon. But while serving jail time, this kind of training is very useful for them; our IWD Head SJ04 Catherine Y. Bongabong is very active in supervising these reform trainings and workshops for inmates. Apart from balloon-making, bag weaving, printing-transfer, the mushroom training is unique since this can be served as immediate food for them and also for selling to earn income.” said Galvez.
One young inmate said that he is interested in doing mushroom production once he gets release of Jail. “I think of my family outside Jail and then I think what else I can do when I go back to them. Now I know this mushroom training shows that I can start a livelihood and sell.” said an inmate who wants to remain anonymous. Another older inmate said that his case is looking well and hopes to be out of jail in less than a year. “I shall visit DA for this technology, and I have an idle land in barangay Sinubong. I want to use it for Mushroom production.” said the older inmate.
After one week from the training-demonstration, the DA team will revisit the City Jail to establish the proper bagging and hanging of mushroom bags. Care and maintenance will be demonstrated to the caretakers.
The BJMP-IWD team together with the DA team also visited the Mushroom Production area that has been previously established at a Retirement Home in barangay Sta. Maria to view the development of the technology conducted by DA La Paz Research Station and DA Soils Laboratory.(DA-INFO9)

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