Sugar Cane Farmers Association Seeks Inquiry into BSI’s Finances
Viewers will recall that in March, after numerous requests from the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), the government agreed to convene a Commission of Inquiry to examine the modernization of the sugar cane industry and improve its viability. The inquiry will look at the entire industry, but the association also wants the commission to investigate BSI’s finances to ensure famers are being paid fairly. ASR’s Vice President for International Relations, Mac McLachlan, says that while the association believes that may assist in finalizing an agreement, the commission should focus on improving sugar cane production.
Mac Maclachlan, Vice President, International Relations, ASR/BSI: “Commission of Inquiry look we had a conversation with the Cabinet and we agreed quite clearly that we would be prepared to participate and cooperate with a commission of inquiry that’s looking at modernizing the industry. Explicitly this not about the commercial agreement so other people are saying it is that’s not the agreement. The agreement is, and this really is necessary as to the earlier part of our conversation we need to modernize this business and we need to help the farmers to modernize; to work in larger units, to have maybe more cooperatives, block farming, these types of things that are going to bring more value to the farmers. At the moment harvesting and delivering costs twice as much in the north of the country as it does in the west you know there’s a win if we can try and look at things like that. So there are so many things that are in our own hands I think. A commission of inquiry is essential for looking at how we modernize the industry, maybe getting somebody in who has done this before, has got the track record and can come about with a transformation strategy essentially in the cane farm to improve things there. I think we’ve proven with this mill especially this year this is a grade A mill. It’s working very well. We had the lowest amount of factory lost time this year on record, less than 3% of the lost time was to do with factory issues. So many things we’re doing, real focus needs to be on the cane farm now and I think you know if the government really want to help that’s an area they can try and encourage rather than bringing about certain bits of legislation which kind of muddy the waters why not actually look at the real issues which is improving productivity in the cane field which is the one way that farmers will be come more viable.”