And while the powerhouse, Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association is at odds with BSI/ASR, there are three other cane farmers’ associations that want to start the crop. The Progressive Sugar Cane Producers Association, the Northern Sugar Cane Growers Association, and the Corozal Sugar Cane Producers all have written to the Sugar Industry Control Board. Together, these associations represent over one thousand cane farmers while the BSCFA represents more than three thousand. Chairman Marcos Osorio confirmed receiving the letters and told us why he decided not to respond.
Reporter: You have not responded to that letter ?
Marcos Osorio, Chairman, Sugar Industry Control Board: “No. You know why ? There’s one common factor in those three letters, actually in the four letters because BSI sent their letter first then followed the other three associations and when you read through the three letters of the associations particularly the Progressive Letter and the Corozal Producers letter they are not saying anything different than what BSI said in their letter and I even feel that the letter was dictated to them what you will write. And I like the part, honestly I like the part where they say ‘Canes that would be lost due to this delay in the start we urge the SICB to compensate the farmers for that sugarcane.’ Right ? I wanted to respond in that regard but I said I don’t want to make this –“
Reporter: They’re saying that SICB should compensate the farmers on the – so how many tons they’re saying they would lose if –
Marcos Osorio, Chairman, Sugar Industry Control Board: “Well it’s easy if we say if the mill was to take three thousand tons per day and if this is delayed two days, three days, five days,we just multiply by the number of days alright ? And they would say okay if it’s five days you know what we lost fifteen thousand tons of sugar cane SICB you need to pay the farmers for it. Now my first thought on this was that I would ask them that once they can provide proof and evidence to the SICB that BSI has paid farmers for cane that was lost year by year for the past years that BSI have paid to them and they can provide the proof and the evidence of what BSI paid to them and they can provide the proof and the evidence of what BSI paid them for those canes left like I said for the last crop we had over forty tons cane that was left in the field so we can classify that as a loss to the farmer. Did BSI pay them ? So I said will respond to them and tell them bring your proof, your evidence that the mill has been paying farmers or compensating farmers for losses of canes that were not milled then I would lobby with government to pay the farmers for their thousands of tons that would be lost to the farmers because of the delay in the start.”