The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) is up in arms as they say they were not consulted nor did they have any say in the decision to shut down the mills at BSI. According to the Chairman of the Association, Elvin Reyes they had initially recommended that the mills be closed on Wednesday at 6pm. This would give cane farmers enough time to mill whatever cane they had already burnt. Reyes says that this halt in production affects the revenue that the cane farmers are barely receiving.
Elvin Reyes, Chairman, Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association: “We asked for that virtual meeting for them to set a date and we were suggesting at least Wednesday 6 P.M and they didn’t want to agree. We sent them a letter on our suggestions because we have farmers who have cane on the field, we sent them off a letter suggesting to set a date at least Wednesday 6 P.M. Now they have on the air and on concern of the farmers that all four associations agreed on a closure of the factory which is not true. We did not agree for that closure, we were asked to give more time for our farmers to take out that cane. We know that farmers have been undergoing a very difficult time this year, we had different types of difficulties for example the drought, we have low production because of the drought, we were affected on the worm infestation. Our farmers have loans at the bank and they cannot afford to lose cane so that is why we were not on that agreement which BSI was suggesting.”
So what does this mean for the 2019/2020 sugar cane season? According to Reyes he says that cane farmers will not lose much of their crops, only the ones that have been burnt.
Elvin Reyes, Chairman, Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association: “Meanwhile the factory is closed we are not losing our cane as in not delivering in nevertheless what stayed on the ground burned, waste, we had a big loss there. What is affecting right now like I told you all is what happened is the income that comes in to their homes weekly that is the way that farmers will be affected the days of closure hoping that it doesn’t take so long for us to go back to the grinding season again.”
Reyes went on to say that the association will always prioritize the best options for cane farmers.