Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association Stands Firm on One-Year Deal Amid Industry Turmoil

Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association Stands Firm on One-Year Deal Amid Industry Turmoil

The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) remains adamant about signing only a one-year commercial agreement with Belize Sugar Industries (BSI). The association’s previous interim agreement expired on November 15, and last week, BSI appealed to the group to sign a 4-year agreement to ensure that this year’s sugar crop season commences on time. However, the BSCFA refuses to sign a long-term deal until the government’s commission of inquiry into the sugar industry is completed. The BSCFA’s CEO, Oscar Alonzo, spoke about the rationale behind the farmers’ decision.

Oscar Alonzo, CEO, BSCFA: “One of the main reasons they have been asking that we sign the agreement is that we have been having a favorable share of the revenue from the sale of sugar and molasses and that we have been able to benefit from the increased sales of DC sugar and also from the increase in the price of sugar. However they are saying that a long term agreement is necessary to provide an incentive for investment but then they have not considered other factors that which are critical incentives to our members which is the price of the sugar cane which is paid to us and where it wouldn’t make any economic sense for us to sign a long term agreement if we are not certain as to the manner in which these extra costs that are being deducted, as I mentioned terminal handling and throughput fee how they are being calculated and also trying to resolve the matter of the cost of converting the raw sugar into DC consumption sugar. Those are critical items because we are noticing that even though there’s a considerable increase in the price of DC sugar compared to the raw sugar nevertheless when the cost of these items are deducted from the sale of sugar we notice that there’s no extra benefit arising.”

Alonzo says the government has assured them that the sugar crop season will not commence unless the association has signed an agreement with BSI/ASR.  However, the mill has stated that they are aiming for a start date of December 15. Alonzo was asked to comment on what would lead to the signing of an agreement, given that both parties remain hellbent on sticking to their proposals.

Oscar Alonzo, CEO, BSCFA:  “BSI can indicate when they would like the crop to start but according to the Sugar Industry Act it is the Sugar Industry Control Board that sets the date for the start of the crop. So that board is made up of representatives from BSI and from the associations and they will need to meet to determine based on BSI’s indication of its readiness to start the crop because they have to assure the board that they’re ready to start and based on what assurances the government has given regarding the agreement the board will then set the date for the start of the crop. So BSI are simply indicating a desire right ? BSI does not set the date for the start of the crop. They just need to show good faith because you’re telling me that you want to sign a four year agreement with us, a long term agreement, and then you come back and you give me the same proposals that you made two years ago ? To me that is sending me a message in the sense that hey I’m not prepared to negotiate possibly. And then we’re going to be engaged in a futile process. Now if they would come, show good faith and one pay us the premiums that they have not paid us for the past two years because the non payment of that premium was a form of discrimination against our association to try to see if they could oblige us to sign a similar agreement that the other associations had signed with them which in our view does not require the sort of conditions they’re putting now in their proposal that we must have a letter signed with Tate and Lyle for the payment of the premium which the Fair Trade standards do not require. So it is simple. It’s for BSI to simply accept the reality of what the Fair Trade standard is saying, pay us our premiums for the past two years including the agreement that they will pay us the premium for the coming year and I don’t think there will be any problem in sitting down trying to see how we could get a long term agreement signed.”

Related post

Family Desperate as 14-Year-Old Nelly Diaz Missing for 48 Hours: Public Urged to Help

Family Desperate as 14-Year-Old Nelly Diaz Missing for 48…

It has been more than 48 hours since 14-year-old, Nelly Maria Diaz, left her home in Santa Cruz Village in the…
San Pedro Columbia Village Rejects Mayan Land Rights Policy

San Pedro Columbia Village Rejects Mayan Land Rights Policy

In recent weeks, we’ve seen numerous Mayan communities from southern Belize clamor for communal land rights, but over the weekend, one…
NTUCB Boycotts IMF Meeting Over Approach Towards Public Officers

NTUCB Boycotts IMF Meeting Over Approach Towards Public Officers

The National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) has taken a stand against the IMF and has opted not to meet…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *