Sugar cane farmers are back on the job as the first crop season for 2020 was declared open today. The Belize Sugar Industry (BSI) had the official opening at the Tower Hill factory under the theme “New decade. New challenges. New opportunities.” The farmers have been facing multiple challenges in recent months including the conditions on the global market, the weather situation as well as the delay in the crop season. The challenges are still not over as Minister of Agriculture, Godwin Hulse, noted that production is looking to decrease by at least 300 thousand tons of sugar for this year.
Godwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture: “Last year we had the best crop ever this year we’ll make the best of the crop that we have because you can’t lie down and die. I mean this is nobody’s fault the fact that the climate changes is something we all have to live with, there was a drought everybody knows that. We did not try to rehabilitate this crop because the rains came and so that was fine but the crop to come which will be planted is the crop in which the Ministry is going to support the farmers with an injection of fertilizers and other inputs to try to rehabilitate that cane and the new cane that is planted so that crop can perhaps come back to what we had if we could call last year the glory year.”
On the weather front, the farmers may have a better year than 2019. At the ceremony, Shanea Young, of the Meteorological Service, gave a presentation on the predictions of rainfall for the next three months. In the report she indicated that there will be slightly below levels of rainfall in the north and slightly above normal in the south. There will also be less reliable rainfall for agriculture due to a continuous trend for drier than normal conditions. According to the Vice President of International Relations for BSI, Mac Maclachlan, despite the recent drought impacts the factory will work hard to produce quality sugar.
Mac McLachlan, Vice – President, International Relations, ASR Group: “Sadly after a record cane crop last year we’re expecting a much lower cane yield this year, maybe losing up to a third of cane and also as a result of weather basically I’m expecting that the quality also of that cane will be affected. Now it’s important to recognize that the cane has been exposed to drought the longest and that’s the cane that’s gonna come in first will be most affected by the drought. Later cane from the second and third trimesters hopefully will not be as badly affected as it’s had less exposure to drought. So we’re expecting to have a lower quality this year to begin with. We’re expecting because of the rain we’ve had recently to have quite a bit of mud coming in with it so it’s going to be a difficult start to the crop but you know on the positive side we’re finishing up the rest of our investment in expansion of direct consumption sugar manufacturing capacity and that will come into effect during this crop so we’re gearing up for a better future for this industry.”
Mac Maclachlan noted that there will be a production deficit in the global market for sugar and thus price for sugar might also increase in that market if the demand is not met.