Inmates at Zamboanga’s San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm will have an opportunity for a productive livelihood after their release. While in detention, they are being trained under a DOST pilot program to raise and market ZamPen native chickens, DOST and Bureau of Corrections officials said.
The prison facility served as a test site for an alternative livelihood program developed by the Western Mindanao Agriculture and Aquatic Resources Research and Development Consortium (WESMAARRDEC) and funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD).
The project at the San Ramon facility began in February 2015, after a Memorandum of Agreement was signed by Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) representing WESMAARRDEC, DOST-PCAARRD, and Bureau of Corrections (BUCOR) for a research team to use the San Ramon penal farm to study the profitability and sustainability of the ZamPen native chicken as source of livelihood in rural communities.
The ZamPen native chicken project is a package of technology transfer initiatives from production (breeding, handling, care, and management techniques) to commercialization (financing, processing, and marketing), the DOST explained.
As part of the study, WMSU provided training for San Ramon inmates on ZamPen native chicken technology and marketing options.
In a statement, BUCOR pointed out that inmates are expected to develop a sustainable livelihood once they are released and rejoin the community. “The project at San Ramon will give inmates a better opportunity to re-integrate and be productive,” BUCOR said.
The inmates started raising ZamPen chicken in the San Ramon farms with WMSU providing breeders and grower stocks, as well as inputs such as feeds, vaccines, and other medications.
The university also provided technical assistance and other support services in the operation of the project, and in the marketing of live, dressed, and other native chicken products.
WMSU also conducts a monthly evaluation on the status of the project, which is ongoing.
The native chicken project was featured at the 29th anniversary celebration of WESMAARDEC on November 22-23 in Zamboanga City, themed “Manok ZamPen: Livelihood Option for every Juan in the Region.”
WESMAARRDEC director Dr. Teresita Narvaez said the event was created to showcase and promote the ZamPen native chicken in Region IX (Western Mindanao) as part of the Farms and Industry Encounters through Science and Technology Agenda (FIESTA) of the DOST.
Dr. Narvaez was optimistic that the ZamPen native chicken will be profitable for farmers and entrepreneurs because of its “gourmet qualities,” as well as its market positioning as a healthy alternative.