One of the plants being tended in the Grow Room Project at the Women's Prison. (Image courtesy Trinidad & Tobago Prison Service)

Sustainable development, marketable skills and income generation were some of the themes explored when, on Thursday 30 December 2021, the Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service officially launched its Grow-Room Project at the Women’s Prison.

The programme, administered by Rayanna Boodram, Director of the Rainforest Agricultural Consultancy, and her team, has received funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

An official release from the Prison Service notes that the Grow Room Project is the latest of its initiatives to provide “opportunities for restoration of its charges, by partnering with viable stakeholders in the interest of rehabilitation.”

During 2021, some 45 officers (including five female officers), and 34 female inmates were trained in the modern agricultural concepts.  Training was provided by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation for Agriculture (IICA).  The designs, engineering, and technology for the ‘grow-room’ were provided by Solaris Greenhouse Agriculture Ltd. Support for the project also was provided by Voice of Agriculture Newspaper.

Minister of National Security, Fitzgerald Hinds MP, commended the initiative and advised the participants that it was not only intended to teach techniques, but it was designed with opportunities to assist in food security, self-sufficiency, healing, and restoration.

Director of the Rainforest Agricultural Consultancy, Rayanna Boodram, explained the Grow-Room initiative incorporates the sustainable development goals through Vision 2030.  She said its objectives are to boost food security, encourage technology driven agriculture and retain and create jobs for women inmates upon completion of their sentences.

Commissioner of Prisons, Dennis Pulchan, noted that given the current climate, the project was extremely important for sustainability.  Commissioner Pulchan said he was extremely pleased in setting the standard by being the first correctional facility in the Caribbean to prioritize food security with the implementation of the project. He said that it would be extended to all other Prisons going forward.