The Santander Sugar group of the Cayo District has been utilizing modern technology in efforts of moving towards a mechanized way of farming. According to Santander, this is a method that they hope to perfect and pass on to their farmers and other farmers within the country. Yesterday the media sat down with Santander Sugar Group who explained their vision for Belize and the company. One of the goals of the company is to have one central hub for the exportation of sugar within the country. According to Jose Rodriguez, Santander’s CEO, the company is speaking with the Belize Sugar Industries as it relates to this topic.
Jose Rodriguez, CEO, Santander Sugar Group: “We have been speaking with the production of the industry of the north to be able to consolidate the terminal as an industry and be able to make important savings on exportation of sugar in Belize which will make us more competitive in the world market. Also if they decide to export through the terminal they will save money that can make us more efficient and also we’re gonna take out the environmental risk of exporting sugar through the river and then through the sea.”
The company has stated that they have employed 750 people from across the country but most of the farmers are from the Cayo district. They stated that these farmers had to undergo training on how to use modern machines for farming. According to Beverly Burke, Public relations Manager, the farmers can then use what they learned from the training and utilize it on their farms.
Beverly Burke, Public Relations Manager: “The independent farmers represent about 20% presently and by all means we want to grow that but it also needs to make sense and that is why you’re going to find that a grower in Corozal will not haul their cane all the way to the Cayo district unless there is some connectivity that is relatively close, it just wouldn’t make financial sense, the cost of transportation is simply too high. What we have done we’ve looked at the area in which we operate, the lands we own versus the ownership around us and it’s really to establish meaningful partners with land owners who are interested in planting cane. When we look at how we operate it is extremely important that we transfer the knowledge to those in which we will invite into this system that we are utilizing. So the first thing we had to do was to have meetings with potential farmers and landowners in the area so that they get an appreciation for mechanized farming. Traditionally we are aware that farming, especially sugar cane farming in Belize has been done manually for the last forty years so when we talk about mechanized farming and mechanized harvesting the technology is new and therefore the learning curve was steep. We transferred that knowledge to those farmers interested and hence start the building of our supply chain.”