INMATES from correction centres in the Western Division will be paid up to $15 per tonne to harvest sugar cane this season.
This was revealed by Fiji Corrections Service Western Division assistant public relations officer Semesa Uluiviti yesterday.
Apart from the obvious income generation benefit to inmates, the exercise is expected to benefit cane growers facing difficulties in enticing cane cutters to harvest their standing crop.
As of today, 60 inmates from the Ba and Lautoka Corrections Centres have been deployed to harvest sugar cane for the Sugar Research Institute of Fiji and independent cane farmers in the division. "Inmates were all looking forward to harvesting and they have promised to do their best as this will be a source of income for them and will give them something to take home to their respective families upon the completion of their sentences and subsequent release," said Mr Uluiviti.
He said work programs like cane harvesting not only benefitted inmates by raising much needed income but was also an integral step in the re-integration process.
"Participating in harvesting sugar cane will instill in them a sense of purpose and belonging and give them a sense of worth.
"This not only benefits the inmates because of the income they will earn, it is also our way of assisting cane farmers who have problems in enticing cane cutters to work on their farms," he said.
Of the 60 inmates involved in sugar cane harvesting programs, 40 are from the Natabua facility in Lautoka and 20 from Namosau in Ba.