The Belize Sugar Cane farmers Association and the Belize Sugar Industries Limited, BSI, are still at odds after not being able to agree on the proposed changes to the existing Commercial Agreement. As we reported, BSI is willing to invest twenty two million dollars to produce direct consumption sugar as soon as the new crop season commences. They are also asking that some changes be made to the existing commercial agreement which the BSCFA does not agree with. The sugar cane association wants the existing agreement to proceed for the next four years. Opposition Leader and Orange Walk Central Area Representative John Briceno is set to meet with the cane farmers tonight.
John Briceno, Opposition Leader
“Both parties need to understand how important this industry is. This industry affects directly over 15,000 Belizeans in the North and in indirectly it affects the entire North and the rest of the country. Now ASR came in at a critical time when the industry was at its lowest and has made a sizeable investment and I know that we have to modernize and do things differently and be more efficient increase productivity all of that is fine but at the end of the day we have to recognize that they need one another; we need the farmers and we need BSI but to have that kind of my way or the highway kind of negotiations cannot work. We realized a few years ago in two years in a row because they could not get an agreement then the sugar season was not opened on time and who were the ones that really got hurt? It was the small farmers that could not deliver their cane. We in the PUP have a proud history on how we deal with the sugar industry whenever they have major problems we’ve always stepped in as an honest broker and working with both parties to try to come to a common ground. The problem with the Prime Minister is that he likes to leave things until it explodes and then it becomes a major problem. I think the government should have stepped in a long time ago and met with the two parties to try to find common ground for us to be able to move forward. I want to put it on record that we in the PUP we are ready to be the honest brokers that if the two parties feel that we can work with them to come and find common ground in a way that we can move the industry forward we are prepared to do so.”