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India: Coimbatore prison inmates to grow sugarcane

The planting of sugarcane is expected to start from this month-end, aiming to harvest the 2021 Pongal festival.

COIMBATORE: As part of a series of efforts aimed to encourage agriculture activity among prison inmates, Coimbatore central prison authorities have planned to begin sugarcane cultivation at Open Air Jail (OAJ) campus in Ondipudur.

The planting of sugarcane is expected to start from this month-end, aiming to harvest the 2021 Pongal festival.

According to the prison officials, the Open Air Jail (OAJ) campus in Ondipudur is spread across 30 acres. Around 1.5-acre land was kept ready for sugarcane cultivation.

Sugarcane cultivation was successfully executed in Tiruchy in 2020 Pongal. Taking it as an example, the Coimbatore prison department is all set to initiate the activity.

“In general January to March is the period of planting sugarcane and December to March is the period of harvesting. In few districts including Coimbatore, it is also raised during the special season and midseason. Hence, we have planned to cultivate from this month itself. Already we have completed tests on soil and water to start the plantation,” said G Shanmuga Sundaram, DIG of Prisons (Coimbatore range).

He said that the sugarcane cultivation project has been planned to focus the Pongal harvest, which often has a high demand for sugarcane across the state.

“Tamil Nadu State government purchases tones of sugarcane every year to distribute to people with Pongal gift items. If the prison department produces its sugarcane, it can be supplied to the government to meet its demand. Though the products made by prison inmates have no compromise in quality, the price would be less. If the yield is high then we can sell it through our prison bazaars, Shanmuga Sundaram added.

Generally, people have a good impression on the products made by prison inmates and the hope on quality and prize increases the customers to the prison bazaar in Coimbatore. The department has planned to use the image for this agricultural initiative.

Besides, the prison inmates have been farming 900 coconut trees at this campus and edible oils are being produced in Ondipudur Open Air Jail.

In Coimbatore central prison, there have been huge initiatives on farming, waste segregation, cattle farming, organic manure production and nursery farming, started to encourage agricultural activities among prison inmates, said officials.

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