AP prisoners to grow herbs for drugs major

AP prisoners to grow herbs for drugs major

No bars

The Andhra Pradesh Department of Prisons and Correctional Services and Himalaya Drugs company on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding to utilise the services of inmates of open prisons to cultivate herbs required by an Ayurveda major in the state.

Named Inmate Skills Development initiative, the pilot project is aimed at successful reintegration of prisoners into mainstream after their release.

The project will be undertaken in two acres at the prison farm in prisoners agricultural colony, Anantapur. Around 30 to 35 prisoners selected for the project will be trained by the company in the cultivation of alfalfa herb.

“The prisons department will pay wages. The proceedings from the sale of the produce under a 100 per cent buy back tie up with Himalaya will be deposited in the AP Prisoners Development Fund,” said T P Das, Director-General of Prisons and Correctional Services.

The AP project is based on a successful model under implementation at Open Air Prison at Avathi village in the Devanahalli taluk of Karnataka. “We are not looking for any cost benefit by employing prisoners to do the cultivation.

We wish to expand the programme to more open prisons as our corporate social responsibility,” said Dr Babu, Head of Agrotech and Phytochemistry at Himalaya. “The company hopes to secure an yield of 3 to 6 tonnes of alfalfa from one acre of land per annum. The total demand for the herb is around 300 tonnes,” Dr Babu said.

AP Inspector-General of Prisons B Sunil Kumar invited Himalaya drugs to ink a similar agreement with prisoners from rural background at the Nizamabad, Khammam and Karimnagar prisons. “We have a14000-strong workforce in the state’s prisons.

 In order to engage them in gainful employment, we have plans to set up a cold storage in Anantapur and a mango pulp unit in collaboration with chocolate maker Nutrine,” the IG said.

The state prisons department, which was the first to set up an open prison in the country and give a brand name to products manufactured by women inmates, will host the next edition of Äsia Pacific Conference of Correctional Administrators in the state in October 2013.

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