Rakiraki sugar cane farm owner Jacoro Nima says the idea to assign inmates to the task of cane cutting has boosted cane production over the years.
“Particularly so because we farm owners always struggle to find the appropriate gangs to work and cut our cane given the timelines and limited resources in the heat of the day,’’ he said.
Mr Nima, whose cane farm is based in Naqali, Nakorokula in Rakiraki says it is getting harder to find the labour to do this every year and youths of today will choose work that is easier.
“After 6-years of applying for the Corrections Inmates workforce, I finally got the nod this year, there is always a long line and we are lucky to be approved.
Mr Nima said the inmates based at the Rakiraki Corrections Center completed his farm in record time harvesting 300 tonnes in just days.
“What I like about this work crew is their discipline and the care they take to cut the cane properly so it is good for the sugar mill.
Mr Nima personally met the Acting Commissioner of Corrections, Salote Panapasa when she was on her recent tour visiting inmates and personnel engaged in the cane cutting operations in Rakiraki, Tavua, Ba and Lautoka.
This was her second such trip since her appointment in January 2023, to check in on inmates and personnel who were involved in this back-breaking work to help the ailing Sugar industry in Fiji.
“Its always good to come out and see on the ground what is happening and to acknowledge everyone who is working hard to contribute to the Fiji Economy,’’ said Commissioner Panapasa.
“I also always thank farm owners like Mr Nima here for their faith in the inmates to work their land.
She commended inmates at all centers for their contribution to the nation’s economy by helping in the harvesting of sugar cane.
“It is also an opportunity for me to come and see my officers and men on the ground, some of whom have been away from home and their families for months to carry out their duties in the supervision and management of inmates during the Musu Dovu operations.”
The involvement of the FCS in the Musu Dovu Operations began in 2013 to help alleviate the issue of finding labour during cane cutting season.
It also presented the opportunity for rehabilitation for inmates with the learnings of hard work, team work, discipline and also earning a substantial income from profits made.