Chile’s National Prison Administration and SQM sign agreement for construction of hydroponic center at Iquique PCC
During the agreement signing ceremony, a plaque was also unveiled for the project that seeks to provide work and social reintegration tools to the inmates of the Iquique Penitentiary Correctional Center (PCC).
Through the signing of an agreement between SQM and Chile’s National Prison Administration (Gendarmería de Chile) in Tarapacá, the institutions forged an alliance to build a modern, 240 mts2 greenhouse at Iquique PCC, which currently houses about 250 women.
The event was attended by the regional secretariat of Justice and Human Rights, Camila Castillo; the Regional Ombudsman, Gabriel Carrión; the Deputy Regional Director of the National Prison Administration, Commander Lenka Urrutia; the Deputy Manager of Social Programs for SQM, Atilio Narváez; the Regional Director of the Chilean Development Corporation (Corfo), Catalina Cortés; the Deputy Warden of Iquique PCC, Lieutenant Daniela Soto, union leaders, employees, officers, the inmates who will work on the project and other special guests.
During the ceremony, the regional secretariat of Justice and Human Rights, Camila Castillo, highlighted the contribution made by SQM in establishing this public-private partnership, which directly benefits the facility’s inmates. “For us, developing the region’s communities is extremely important, and it is important to make progress in social reintegration and security. It is important to do this hand in hand with private enterprise and this is a tremendous example, so I recognize SQM’s commitment to the inmates of Iquique PCC,” she said.
Atilio Narváez, SQM’s Deputy Manager of Social Programs, said that this initiative was in response to a request from the Regional Governor to replicate what was done in La Tirana and they were happy to take on the project. “As a company we are very happy with this great initiative, since hydroponics comes to solve traditional agriculture, as it does not need farm land, only water and sun. The interns will learn the hydroponic technique and will have the necessary tools to be able to work anywhere where this type of agriculture exists.”
Regarding the importance of this initiative in the inmates’ reinsertion process, the the National Prison Administration’s deputy regional director for Tarapacá, Commander Lenka Urrutia, said that “having a project of this type is a real incentive for the prison population and for all the officers. It will bear fruit in the short term, helping them to eat healthy food. In addition, I would like to highlight SQM’s sense of collaboration, since this work will be carried out by the inmates themselves with farming experience, and I thank the company for trusting us and giving us the opportunity to develop this project.”
The greenhouse, which will measure 10 meters wide and 24 meters long and is expected to be inaugurated in mid-August, will be assisted by SQM agronomists from the Atacama Tierra Fértil program, who will train and accompany the beneficiaries throughout the hydroponics process.