Inmates fill in labour shortfall

MORE than 530 inmates from the Fiji Corrections Service (FCS) have been involved in the harvesting of sugar cane to date, says deputy commissioner of Corrections senior superintendent Jo Kulinidilo.

And the FCS says it is open to the idea of assisting the sugar industry in addressing labour shortage issues in the future.

Lack of canecutters led to short supply of the raw material to mills in the Western Division.

“Operation Musudovu began in Lautoka in 2013 and so far 535 inmates in total have been utilised to assist in the harvesting of sugar cane in various farms around the country,” the deputy commissioner said.

“There has been an increase in the numbers over the years with Rakiraki being our latest area of inclusion this year. We are now operating in Lautoka, Labasa, Ba, Nadi and Rakiraki.”

Senior superintendent Kulinidilo said the inmates’ involvement in harvesting had been a very successful part of the FCS’s rehabilitation program.

“FCS continues to receive positive feedback from farmers, relevant sugar stakeholders and members of the community in relation to the inmates’ higher rate of productivity. This is in comparison to the work produced by ordinary canecutters.

“FCS will continue to work with Government, the Ministry of Sugar and the Fiji Sugar Corporation to assist farmers and ensure that the lack of manpower in sugarcane harvesting is addressed.”

Inmates from the FCS are harvesting more than 20 tonnes a day compared with 11 tonnes cut by labourers.

Earnings from cane harvested are shared on a 60:40 basis with 60 per cent given to prisoners upon completion of their sentence and 40 per cent returned to Government.

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