Mahalapye — Botswana Prisons Service, through its agriculture projects, has potential to satisfy the market demand.
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi made the remarks during a tour of stalls at the 61st Prisons Day celebrations in Mahalapye on May 18.
He said it was unfortunate that government incurred billions of Pula through importation of agricultural products while organisations such as prisons had skills to produce.
The department, he said, should also consider working with beneficiaries of government programmes such as poverty eradication
"Some are engaged in vegetable production while others are baking bread. It is therefore advisable for the department to collaborate with them and consume their produce," he said, adding the department was a potential market for poverty eradication programme projects.
While at the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) stall, President Dr Masisi commended the institution for its commitment in the fight against corruption.
"However, there is a need to empower the authority to be at par with the growing and complex corrupt practices," he said.
President Masisi, who was assisted by the Defence, Justice and Security minister, Mr Shaw Kgathi and Local Government and Rural Development assistant minister, Ms Botlogile Tshireletso awarded 88 medals to deserving officers.
Awards categories included Botswana Prison Service Meritorious Service, Botswana Prison Service Distinguished Service Order, Botswana Prison Service Jubilee Service Medal and Botswana Prison Service Medal for Long Service and Good Service.
Retired officers were also awarded for contributing to the growth of the department.
Retired permanent secretary, Ms Segakweng Tsiane, was honoured for being at the forefront of the amendment of the Prison Act and drafting of a Prisoner Rehabilitation Policy to facilitate modernisation of prisoner rehabilitation.
Retired Senior Assistant Commissioner Lesego Nancy Semelamela was hailed as a pioneer of Botswana Prisons Healthcare Services.
Superintendent Tommy Mading, who retired in 1993, was recognised for the establishment of prisons industry workshops, introduction of welding and fabrication course and prisoner trade testing.
Retired Senior Superintendent Blom Lekoba was the pioneer of prison farms and gardens.
In an interview, prisons spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Wamorena Ramolefhe said the department aimed at empowering inmates and improving its collaboration with various stakeholders responsible for the rehabilitation of convicts.
Assistant Commissioner Ramolefhe also appreciated the collaboration they had established with the community of Mahalapye.
"We are here to reflect on the positives we have achieved over the years with the involvement of different stakeholders. The event is used to get feedback from various stakeholders, most importantly the general public," he said.
The day activities were spiced by drill parades, prions band and motorbike parades, among other things.
Flowertown Primary School pupils had an opportunity to take part in the day's activities including parade displays and providing part of entertainment.