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Is discord on the horizon in the sugar industry?

The sugar crop flowed without much interruption, at least not by farmers, but that calm within the industry may soon come apart. As we reported last night, following a successful crop, the Belize Sugar Industry has proposed a Direct Consumption Sugar (DCS) expansion project. Direct Consumption sugars are sugars that are refined to a higher quality than raw sugar to be consumed directly. BSI currently produces five types of these sugars. The company proposes to produce DC sugars in the off crop and is prepared to invest over two million dollars in the factory to facilitate the production. This would see a small increase in the milling capacity and an additional two dollars per ton of cane being paid to cane farmers. Sounds like a good proposal, only, the largest association, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association is holding back. The BSCFA is asking that the Commercial Agreement, signed about two and a half years ago, be revisited. Viewers may recall that that agreement was for a seven year period but a clause in the agreement allows for the association to ask for the discussions to be reopened. This would hold back any progress, said Vice President for International Relations at ASR Mac McLachlan.

Mac McLachlan – Vice President, BSI/ASR Group
“This was entered into the agreement at the very last minute which said if there was no strategic development plan signed within year then the contract can be terminated after three years which would by January 2018. Well really in our view we don’t believe that we have the luxury of time to get involved in a long drawn out conversation that could well end up with a delay in the crop that has caused this industry so much difficulty in the past. But as I say, we are hopeful that BSCFA leadership will come and discuss that with us and we have an invitation out to them at the moment to continue that conversation. We have to think very carefully about whether we are going to invest money into something that we may not see a return from that investment in view of the fact that there may be interruption to cane crops you know worst case scenario I think is moving backwards, moving back to where we have been in the past going back to the same old issues that there were no resolution to before except for the fact and I keep reminding everyone because it’s important to do that is that we do now pay for bagasse. But we don’t think about worst case scenarios here we are looking at progress, the way forward, what we can do and I’m fairly convinced that when everybody sits down and looks at these issues in a very practical and realistic way that I think we will come to a meeting of minds we already have with two associations I believe that we can with the third one.