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Jul 30, 2014

ASR/BSCFA Bagasse Impasse Unresolved….

The impasse between B.S.I./A.S.R. and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association continues to thrive. At a general meeting of sugar cane farmers in Orange Walk and Corozal recently, it was decided that the intervention of the government would be sought in terms of what they feel would be a fair payment for bagasse. According to Prime Minister Barrow, the intervention sought would result in the provision by G.O.B. of an independent expert who would be able to provide input.  He reiterated that while he has made a commitment from early on to pay for the services of an independent expert, government cannot arbitrarily impose an expert to handle arbitration.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“I met with the ASR officials this morning and they are not at all in favour of the proposal that some independent expert weigh in. They insist that this is a commercial issue between them and their partners, the farmers, and that everybody needs to understand that the industry is facing huge challenges arising from the competition that will be caused by new European marketing arrangements that will see the beet sugar producers have the kind of access to the markets that would cause it appears a reduction in price for the producers of cane sugar. ASR is saying that is an existential threat to the industry…we need to come together to determine how we will deal with that. We need to come together to see how the factory will be expanded, to see how the farmers will be helped to increase their production yield to prepare Belize for what could be calamitous. In that context, they are saying that the coming together of all stakeholders that is necessary should start with an ability to work out the issue of payment for bagasse…that if they can’t even solve that problem it doesn’t bode very well for the longer term existence of the industry.”

 

At this point, it is about more than the payment for bagasse. There is the larger question of the commercial agreement for the sale, purchase and marketing of sugar which remains unresolved. PM Barrow says that any future crop is at stake if the parties cannot agree on a commercial agreement including payment for bagasse. 

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