Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and BSI/ASR at Impasse Over Commercial Agreement

Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and BSI/ASR at Impasse Over Commercial Agreement

After months of negotiations, tonight, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) and Belize Sugar Industries/American Sugar Refinery (BSI/ASR) remain at odds. The two parties remain at an impasse over a commercial agreement, particularly the price-sharing mechanism. The association and the miller were unable to agree on most things but had managed to sign a collective bargaining agreement that expires in November. But will a new agreement be stuck before the start of the new sugar cane crop season? Sean Chavarria, the BSI Financial Director, says they are hoping for the best. 

Sean Chavarria, Director of Finance, BSI:  “We haven’t had any meetings. The Cabinet subcommittee is supposed to be taking you know an interest, a lead in trying to see if some compromise can be arrived so you know we wouldn’t be able to comment at this stage at that point but certainly in terms of direct communications there is none at the moment so I really wouldn’t have an update on that.”

Reporter: I know time is of the essence are you hopeful that something, some kind of agreement will be struck before December ? 

Sean Chavarria, Director of Finance, BSI:  “Well certainly in our interest there is a crop and we want it to be a successful crop so you know our doors are always open to arrive at an agreement that is mutually beneficial to both parties.”

While the miller remains in negotiation with the BSCFA, it is also preparing for the new crop season. Chavarria explained that the company is investing a significant amount to ensure that the mill is ready for the tons of sugar cane that will be harvested. 

Sean Chavarria, Director of Finance, BSI:  “A lot of folks might wonder when the crop ends when all the work finishes at the mill but in fact a key part of the work actually takes place during this time of year when we take down the mill and the powerplant, do our maintenance activities and get it ready for the next year. This year we have an extensive program of repairing and replacing a lot of equipment at the sugar mill and the power plant is around $14 million that we’ll be investing in both plants to get ready for the start of next crop. So from our end we’re on track in terms of our repairs, the aim is to try to get everything completed by the second week of December to try to get the crop back into cycle. The ideal cycle for sugar cane in Belize to be milling is between December to June. Last year we didn’t manage to finish in June but it was because we were short of cane so this year we want to ensure that from our standpoint we certainly ready to start by the second. Week of December and be able to grind cane at a very good capacity and efficiency and that’s why the maintenance that we’re doing at this juncture is very important because once we do a thorough maintenance of the factory that ensures that we’re able to operate reliably and be able to perform at a higher level.”

The news sugar crop season is set to begin in December.

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