With World Sugar Prices declining and without a preferential market, Belize is left to compete with other sugar-exporting countries in an already harsh world market. While the manufacturing of sugar is done by BSI/ASR, it is cane farmers who grow the cane. The industry affects over six thousand cane farmers and by extension their families. The third estimated average cane price for the 2018 crop is BZ$41.69 per ton cane. The reduction in the cane price estimate is principally due to a reduction in the projected price for raw sugar sold in the European Union and while this is so much bad news for industry stakeholders, Ministry of Agriculture Godwin Hulse is seeing the silver lining beyond the dark cloud.
Godwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture: “One of the good things that had happened contrary to what some of my friends on the opposition and other people might think was the introduction of ASR because ASR are big people with deep pockets. So you will recall that prior to them BSR was a struggling thing, I had been on their board for the longest, we couldn’t get any money, government had to lend us money to make payment you don’t have that nonsense anymore because they have the finances to do it and what they are pushing is to try to move to direct consumption sugar and particularly to get it into the Caribbean and we are well on our way to that which will give a higher and a better price to the sugar because of course it goes straight on your table rather than just raw sugar that has to be refined. So that should supplement the reduction in world wide prices of raw sugar. As you know there is still the fair trade money that is working and the associations have kind of stabilized and balanced now and I think everybody has gotten the sense that look there is a limited amount of land what we need to do is increase these yields and you know they had 17 years of monies from the European Union to do just this and a lot of people never took advantage of it but I think that sense is catching on. If you take a parallel out of Santander, they came on the scene, they don’t have small farmers to deal with, they’re dealing with a couple of big farmers but their yeilds are fantastic and that is because they have put in what is required. I think this will happen in the north as well and I think the associations have now understood clearly that there is no point in trying to fight the factory they are in it together there is one team and Government acts as a facilitator.”
Cane quality remains a critical factor that directly influences the average cane price. Belize’s Sugar is primarily sold in the EU Market.