Prisoners in Seychelles will take part in a project to harvest cinnamon bark for exportation as part of their rehabilitation.
The work is an initiative of the Seychelles Prison Services under its ‘Phoenix Project’ rehabilitation programme and Seychelles’ longest exporters of cinnamon bark Chaka Brothers (Pty) Ltd.
The collaboration was sealed through an agreement signed last week between Raymond St. Ange, Superintendent of Prisons, and Chaka Brothers (Pty) Ltd.
Low-risk prisoners will be able to harvest cinnamon bark and then dry them. The prison authority will then sell the dry bark to Chaka Brothers, which currently finds it difficult to fulfill its quota for exportation.
“Chaka Brothers, with a long and well-respected presence in the Seychelles business community, was at one time a dominant exporter of cinnamon to the world markets. Today with Chaka Brothers we are opening up further opportunities for our inmates to not only learn new skills in cinnamon harvesting with yet another enterprise but as well doing our small part to help in reviving this industry,” said St. Ange.
According to the prison “discussions with Chaka Brothers have been ongoing for many months and with today’s signing, Chaka Brothers are now part of the rehabilitation process that gives opportunities to inmates to earn an allowance while learning and applying new skills.”
“The reason we chose to do this with the prison is we want to help these prisoners in their rehabilitation, valorize them as well as giving them a sense of purpose. It is a start, let us give it one year and we will see how this works,” said Yakub.
The prison authority will then sell the dry bark to Chaka Brothers, which currently finds it difficult to fulfill its quota for exportation. (Chaka Brothers) Photo License: CC-BY
The senior probation officer at the prison explained that to start the prisoners will be clearing and harvesting the barks in an area not far from the Montagne Posee Prison called Bon Espoir.
“It is an opportunity for us to get some revenue,” Elsa Nourrice said, adding that money earned with be divided between the inmates involved in the project.
“The money is divided in three. A third comes in the prison accounts, two-thirds goes for the prisoner but only one third can be used by the detainee. The rest is kept for them so that when they are released they do have something in their hands.”
Nourrice said that money earned by the inmates is also used to pay off any court fines that they may have.
The reviving of the island nation cinnamon is topical nowadays ever since the president of Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean – spoke about re-launching this plantation industry.
In an interview in February on his first 100 days as the head of state, Wavel Ramkalawan said that his government is seriously analysing the production and exportation of cinnamon on a large scale.
“Because, you see, when you look up at the mountains where the cinnamon grows abundantly, it is dollars you are looking at. So, the government is looking at how to revive this industry so that cinnamon, the dollars in the mountains, can be exploited and exported and all of this will help to build our economy,” Ramkalawan had said.
The project hopes that these prisoners will remain to work in the industry once they leave the prison.