The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association has responded to BSI/ASR in regards to the company’s proposed investment and conditions for that investment, which was published on Monday. BSI has proposed to produce Direct Consumption Sugar and is willing to invest up to 22 million Belize Dollars into the mill to make this happen as soon as the next crop. However, before they do so, BSI is asking that the existing Commercial Agreement remains the same for the remainder of the contract. That would be for another four years. There are conditions though, which BSI says are minor changes to the agreement. The company is asking these be put in place to give BSI the certainty that there would be no re-negotiations of the agreement or interruptions to the crop season. Today, BSFCA’s CEO Oscar Alonzo says they have a response, one that has been approved by the Association’s membership following several meetings with them across the sugar belt.
“We accept the investment there is nothing wrong with it, it’s perfect it’s wonderful but there is something that I think should have been proposed from way back. The only matter that we have in relation to it is that we see that the conditions that they are putting forward and want us to accept automatically appear to be an imposition rather than being requested through a process of negotiation and I think we are saying that we should go through the process of negotiation as the contract provides for and in that process if everything could not be achieved then fine we will look at it but the BSCFA members are saying that the conditions the way they are being presented are an imposition and that we are expecting that it be negotiated since they want changes and there are some changes that we feel should be made to the contract especially with regards to the experience that we had with the loss of the molasses through the miller and we just want the contract to provides for some sort of resolution without having to have recourse or remediation.”
Alonzo adds that BSCFA has no intention of terminating the agreement and that it is ready to continue negotiations and conclude it well before the start of the next crop. But the BSCFA has other concerns. Among these Alonzo says, is that BSI has been approaching farmers individually and in small groups to convince them to accept the proposal.
“Not only that we understand that they have been asking to move away from the association and to form their association or form another association and we find that this maneuver will cause a problem and the statement that they had made that our members would not be able to deliver any cane or accept any cane from our members if they don’t have a contract in place this is creating fear and is scaring the farmers. It also enable the farmers to take the kind of action that would not be too attractive. So we have been trying to steer this issue towards a negotiation process but we hope that BSI is able to see through this in that matter if not its complicating the matter more by these actions that are taking place on its own.”
Alonzo says they are waiting on BSI’s response.