BSI/ASR and Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association Still at Odds Over Fairtrade Premiums
And while that is good news for the sugar sector, there remains the issues between BSI/ASR and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA). The time is approaching for the two parties to negotiate the renewal of a commercial agreement, but the two entities seem to always be at odds with each other. Shawn Chavarria of BSI/ASR spoke on the matter, saying that the Fairtrade premiums were a hot button issue for the BSCFA.
Shawn Chavarria, BSI/ASR Chief Finance Officer: “In terms of the commercial agreement with the BSCFA, at some point we have to re-engage with the BSCFA things were sort of on hold particularly because of the Fair Trade matter. The BSCFA had indicated that it was not prepared to engage on discussions on the commercial agreement until the matter of Fair Trade had been addressed and at the moment, I know that Tate and Lyle and BSCFA have been meeting to try to find a way forward on that. But at some point we do have to reengage and come up with an agreement given our existing agreement will expire later this year and we will need a new agreement to cover the next crop. Well, it would certainly have to be settled by the start of next crop which would be sometime we would expect in December. So between now and then, the parties need to reach some agreement having a contract in place for the sale and purchase of sugarcane. At some point we will have to reengage during the next five to six months to discuss and agree a way forward. For us to have a crop next year, to be able to purchase sugarcane from BSCFA farmers, we have to have a commercial agreement and that is independent of the court action being taken because that’s addressing some specific issues. One of them, yes, is the payment of fair trade premiums but fair trade premiums do not form part of our commercial agreement. Our commercial agreement is for the purchase and sale of sugarcane from farmers. The payment of fair trade premiums is done by the buyer of the fair trade eligible sugar who sells and markets that in Europe and these other countries and they pay that fair trade premium. So we can certainly proceed with discussions on a commercial agreement irrespective of the constitutional case.”