BSI and Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association Yet to Reach Agreement for Sugar Cane Crop
The end of the year is fast approaching, and Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) is hoping to begin the 2023-2024 sugar cane crop. However, the company has still not settled on a commercial bargaining agreement with the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, which can be a problem for the coming season. Today, Shawn Chavarria said that BSI is actively engaging farmers with a proposal to renew their current arrangement for another four years since the agreement has still not been reached. Chavarria stressed that reaching some form of long-term agreement with the BSCFA is paramount for investor confidence and the development of the sugar industry.
Shawn Chavarria, Director of Finance, BSI: “This would be under the same terms and conditions that we have with the other three associations that we have long term agreements with and so it would be the same agreement. Following significant investments that we made at the factory in terms of increasing value added production, modernizing our logistics, improving our environmental compliance we believe we have the foundations here to continue to grow and improve in this industry. I think what is currently lacking because of the fact that we don’t have an agreement with the BSCFA is that certainty within the sugar industry particularly here in the north for all stakeholders to invest with confidence. So we believe the time is right for us to lock in a long term agreement so that all parties are able to invest and grow the business, to reduce cost, to become more efficient. As I highlighted earlier the drop in cane supply is a concern of stakeholders from our end the mill is being underutilized and from the farmer’s end if their production yields are coming down it would mean that their cost for production is going up and so to ensure that we can have the mill at full capacity and then farmers operating at a lower cost and higher efficiency we do need to address the matter of cane supply. But the environment to do that can only be one where there is certainty, there is a that encouragement to invest and for that to happen really you need long term agreements with all stakeholders, with all association.”
He added that, with the intended start date fast approaching, the hope is to have something concrete with the association in the next few days. He said that the company is hoping to get the crop started in December to finish by June 2024 and avoid the height of the rainy season.
Shawn Chavarria, Director of Finance, BSI: “We’ve written to the BSCFA and are awaiting their response. Given that the plan is to start the crop by the middle of December we believe that a discussion or meeting can take place in the next week or so but you know we are awaiting the response from the BSCFA on that. In the meantime stakeholders have been meeting to discuss preparations for the start of crop. I know that the SCPC met last week to discuss the production estimate and what the crop is looking like for next year. We’ll be meeting as well with all the associations to discuss factory readiness and also get feedback from them on their readiness to start. So this is the time of year when really all the stakeholders need to discuss preparations for crop and we believe along those lines we should be meeting or hearing from the BSCFA in terms of reaching an agreement to cover not only next crop but hopefully future crops.”
BSI is currently conducting maintenance on the factory in preparation for the start of the new crop. The company made record-high payouts to cane farmers for sugarcane last crop and said that world market prices are expected to remain favorable in the foreseeable future.