The Belize Sugar Industry, BSI/ASR Group today signed a loan agreement with IDB Invest that will contribute to phase two of the Direct Consumption Sugar Expansion Project. The project seeks to improve the factory’s production capacity of food grade sugar, increasing the value on the international market. This ensures that Belize’s sugar remains viable and profitable. According to Mac McLachlan, Vice President of International Relations at BSI/ASR, this transformational phase is a practical step forward. Meanwhile Minister of Agriculture Godwin Hulse says it’s a move fully supported by government.
Mac McLachlan, Vice President of International Relations at BSI/ASR: “Partnering with the IDB Invest I think was a natural step for us in many respects. We share a lot of the principals, a lot of the objectives and the geography with IBD and Invest in their respects so we felt that it was very important as this really is a socio economic business. It is looking after a large sector of livelihoods in this country but it is very appropriate to have a partner with an INternational Development Bank and I am delighted for this loan/ agreement that the IDB has supported in the upcoming months to look at all of the cane farm and look at how we can improve efficiencies and improve productivity across the board for our industry so I think you know it is a natural step and for IDB I believe also I felt that this was a very good step. The Socioeconomic of this type of project is enormous. The better quality product you end up producing opportunities in wider markets. Not only are we looking here at value added sugar but we are also putting in the mechanisms here that make that very high quality as well so our aim here in the longer term is to be competitive anywhere in the world but for the time being we still have good markets in EU that we can sell sugar too. We are also opening markets for CARICOM for Caribbean Sugar and we believe that by making these steps we are bringing a lot more sustainable to this industry at a time where it is challenging for all sugar industries in the world with low pricing at the moment of sugar.”
The loan is for up to fifteen million US dollars. Dr. Cassandra Roberts, Country Representative of the IDB in Belize says the project falls under the IDB’s country strategy which focuses on education, tourism, transportation and trade and tax policy.
Dr. Cassandra Roberts IDB Country Rep: “The Bank has a strategy with Belize extending to December 2019 and first I want to say that the IDB groups objective is to improve lives in Latin America and in the Caribbean and of course in this case in Belize. The current country strategy: one of its main objectives is to promote private sector growth. In other words our interest and our objective is to contribute to the growth of the economy while at the same time it is improving the quality of lives of Belizeans and so this project is very relevant. It is front and center and it is a win win situation we think because the project. This collaboration with the Belize Sugar Industries is going to finance and increase the production capacity of a type of sugar that will attract a higher value on the international market. This of course will mean higher earnings for BSI but not only for BSI but more importantly it is going to also benefit the more than 5000 cane farmers because of course they get a share of those earnings and so we see this as a win win situation. It is going to result in economic growth for the country but it is also going to have the socio economic benefits at the level of the farmers by improving the livelihoods of sugarcane farmers in northern Belize.”
The project has the support of all three sugar cane farmers associations. The second phase of the project will be implemented over a span of eighteen months.