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Minister Mai says the Sugar Industry is in a very difficult position

“The Sugar Industry is in a very difficult position” – that’s what Agriculture Minister Jose Mai has said of the current impasse between ASR/BSI and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA). As we have reported, the conclusion of this year’s sugar season also marked the expiration of the interim agreement that Prime Minister John Briceño had brokered to end a 3-day blockade of the mill. That impasse, which was over the signing of a commercial agreement between the two parties, resulted in a late start of the sugar season and tons of cane going to waste. To ensure the upcoming sugar crop season does not suffer the same fate the government the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture met with the BSFCA last week to discuss their position and the request they have presented to ASR/BSI. However, according to Minister Mai, so far, the requests being made by the BSCFA are not being taken into consideration by the miller. 

Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security & Ent.: “Our hope is for an agreement to be reached at before the start of the next crop. The deadline was supposed to be before the end of the crop. It did not happen. We are again going for the second round and we expect to have an agreement but  think that it is time for the tough decisions to be made. As a county, as leaders of this country, we are tasked to make tough decisions and I think it has to be done in the best interests of the industry, in the best interests of the people of this country. So we have a long way to go. We just hope that the stakeholders, both the millers and the farmers, could reach a position where both stand to gain. As Government, our role is to ensure that parties are treated fairly and that the big person does not take opportunity of the smaller person and that the smaller person does not, because of mass, take opportunity of the investor or the miller. So we have to play that role and we have to play it cautiously. But again, it’s not an easy task to deal with the Sugar Industry. It is very complicated but at the end of the day, we hope to have a fair agreement, fair to both farmers and to the manufacturers.”