Seychelles To Revive Agriculture Sector Using Low-Risk Prisoners

VICTORIA, Seychelles — Republic of Seychelles is set to launch a large-scale production of ginger, onions, and garlic for local consumption using low-risk inmates from prison.

The move will support national efforts to revitalize the agriculture sector on the outer Islands of the country as part of a rehabilitation programme between Montage Posee Prison and the Islands Development Company (IDC).

Seychelles began the sector’s rehabilitation efforts under the programme ‘Project Phoenix’ in 2019 but was halted due to several challenges.

In a statement released on Monday (Feb. 22), by the Seychelles Prison Service, the ultimate goal for those on the program is to complete their sentence positively, reengage with their families, and become responsible members of society.

“As directed by the Superintendent of Prisons two years ago, ‘Project Phoenix’ was given a fresh approach of work with the aim of reducing recidivism, noting a study in 2015 which found that 35% pf all inmates released commit the same offenc and are convicted again.” The statement read.

A joint press statement between the Ministry of Internal Affairs, IDC and the Montagne Posse Prison on Friday revealed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)was signed earlier last week to facilitate the revisit of the programme.

“We have learned from the past programmes and we have fixed the issues that we had in the past such as human resources,” Minister for Internal Affairs, Errol Fonseka explained.

Project Phoenix engages with inmates using the stepped approach, a gradual process of addressing behaviour and improving as they attain the goals of each step. Positive behaviour is encouraged affording the opportunity for the inmate to engage fully in the programme.

IDC chief executive officer Glenny Savy said the programme will benefit up to 30 convicts, with the first six to travel to Coetivy where the programme will run from March 2021.

Beneficiaries will be entitled to allowance which will be remitted to their families or deducted as fines which they may have. They will also develop marketable skills that will enable them to re-adjust and stabilize themselves.

According to the MoU, Christian Lionnet, the IDC deputy chief executive will oversee the programme that aims at producing ginger, onions and garlic, which are consumed largely in the country, to reduce their importation.

“We are targeting products not grown on Mahe. So, we want to fight against importation and that is why one of our targets is onion, garlic and ginger, so if we can produce locally it would be a big advantage for the country,” said Lionnet.

Coetivy island has adequate space, abundant fresh water, and enough infrastructure to cater to the targeted number of inmates.

Raymond St Ange, the Superintendent of Prison said the selected inmates to the programme must have been well behaved. He added that “We will also have prison guards that will be working alongside IDC staff.”

The project will further incorporate rearing of animals such as pigs and chickens, aquaculture, and construction.