The cost of feeding the increasing population of the Guyana prison system has skyrocketed to more than (Guy)$19,000 per month for each prisoner, spurring former chairman of the Caribbean Rice Association, Beni Sankar to join with Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee to reintroduce an initiative to make prisoners become self-sufficient in agricultural production.
The program, to be conducted at the Mazaruni, Lusignan and New Amsterdam facilities formally controlled by prison officials, will involve skilled farmers such as Sankar in teaching inmates to grow vegetables and rear cattle, with great potential for agricultural development where land and manpower would be readily available.
In a recent Caribbean Life interview in Georgetown, Sankar — owner of the 36,000-acre Hampton Court rice farm on the Essequibo Coast, praised the minister for his initiative that would also better prepare detainees with a skills that would be beneficial after after incarceration.
Sankar, an agricultural engineer, and the executive officer of the Kayman Sankar Group of Companies, will work with prison officers to share his expertise in agriculture to create a beneficial environment for the prisoners, who will eventually earn money from the program.
The fertile land, said Sankar, a member of the Institute of Agricultural Engineers, would allow the initiative to reach its full potential with the cultivation of vegetables such as Bora, tomatoes, pepper cassava, Bok Choy, and okra.
“We will train the prisoners how to produce different crops so that when they leave prison they would have earned money and gained a skill to find a job in agriculture,” he added.
According to news agencies in Guyana, Rohee plans to focus on the large-scale development that will go well with the hands it has to work the land, after irrigation techniques, yield per acreage and other factors are in place, including adequate labor and technical skills.
With the inclusion of Sankar, a former pilot, and British-educated silo specialist, the minister said the Guyana Prison Agricultural Development Board would place more emphasis on upgrading such programs in prisons.
According to the Guyana Chronicle Online, after recognizing the potential for agricultural development and the opportunity to diminish the cost of dietary needs for inmates, Deputy Director of Prisons, Malcolm Mc Andrew encouraged prison officers to dedicate two hours of work to supervise at least four prisoners in this endeavor.
This, he added,would harness the inmates’ potential to become self-sufficient.