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Contradictions in the Sugar Industry

In one of our news segments last week we brought an interview with Agriculture Minister, Godwin Hulse who had just completed a meeting with the sugarcane farmers and stakeholders in Orange Walk.  In that interview Minister Hulse expressed optimism in the way forward.  Today, however, the Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno posted on his Facebook Page grave concerns from the farmers as they relate to their future.  Briceno wrote, quote, “On Monday, the Hon. Jose Mai, our shadow Minister for Agriculture, and I met with the leadership of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA). During our meeting,they expressed their disappointment in the lack of leadership and support from the Government of Belize. They also expressed concern over the high handed attitude of the leadership of BSIASR.  BSCFA strongly believes that there must be a true and meaningful partnership between GOB, BSIASR and the Cane Farmers. Unfortunately they are not experiencing this at the moment.They have expressed some serious concerns over BSIASR’s insistence on planting more cane. When ASR first arrived in Belize, they encouraged our Belizean farmers to plant more cane and they (ASR) will increase the milling capacity of the mill to 1.8 millions tons. The farmers have lived up to their part of the bargain- they have increased production yet ASR has not increased the milling capacity of the factory.  We in the PUP, believe that BSIASR play an indispensable role in the sugar industry. But at the same time, so do our Belizean Cane Farmers.  The PUP strongly supports the establishment, by legislation, a Sugar Marketing Committee that must have representation from BSIASR, GOB and the Belizean Cane Farmers.  The PUP also believes that since our farmers have demonstrated their capacity to increase sugar cane production, it is time to start the discussion with BSIASR to limit the amount of cane they can plant.  The success of the Sugar Industry in the North has been because the PUP has insisted in the full and equal participation of our Belizean Cane Farmers. A new PUP government work with our Belizean Cane Farmers to ensure that they not only survive but also thrive.”  End of quote.  The post does have some political sway to it but the main concern is the status of the country’s sugar industry and whether the Government is indeed working hand in hand with the cane farmers and stakeholders.  We will do a follow up to this story.