GIS - 03 October, 2013: A hydroponic unit funded by the Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) to the tune of US 9 474 dollars was launched this morning at the Women Prison at Beau Bassin in the presence of the Senior Chief Executive of the Prime Minister’s Office, Mrs K.O Fong Weng-Poorun, and the Commissioner of Prisons, Mr Jean Bruneau.
The Prison department has worked in collaboration with the FAO and the Agricultural Research and Extension Unit to develop the Telefood Greenhouse project at the Women Prison. Tomatoes are being cultivated in the first instance and the estimated weekly total production varies between 125 and 150 kg. Total harvest for the whole crop cycle has been estimated to be two to three tonnes.
The Greenhouse unit will provide first quality vegetables to be used in the preparation of food for detainees. This will allow the Prison department to make a cost cut on the purchase of vegetables.
On the same occasion a new gate lodge cum watch tower built to the tune of Rs 15,2 million, was inaugurated at the Women prison. The construction of the new gate lodge and watch tower was deemed necessary as a result of difficulties encountered by the Prison authorities to carry out body search on female detainees on their return from courts or public hospitals in case they are suspected to bring into prison prohibited items such as drugs or cellular phones.
In her address, Mrs Fong Weng-Poorun announced that the government is planning to build an Open prison for women similar to the one for men situated at Richelieu. She recalled that some members of the prison staff have already been to Australia to familiarise themselves with the functioning of Open prisons there. While referring to the gate lodge cum watch tower, she pointed out that it has been put up to enhance security of the personnel, detainees and lawyers. The infrastructure comprises a legal adviser’s room, a visiting room and CCTV and all norms of human rights have been observed during its construction, she added
The Senior Chief Executive expressed satisfaction that the Prison department is diversifying its activities for female detainees and is exposing them to agricultural activities. As outlined in the action plan of the Prison department, more emphasis is being laid on rehabilitation of detainees and their reinsertion into the society once they have served their term of imprisonment. Training of detainees is important but it is most crucial that they are employed once they leave prison, she added.
For his part, Mr Bruneau recalled that the greenhouse unit is in line with the rehabilitation programme, adding that female detainees will have hands-on experience in the management techniques of the infrastructure. Eventually they can start hydroponic activities on their own after release or be employed by planters involved in this type of production.
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