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Sep 5, 2014

P.M. Barrow on Sugar Cane Farmers Association

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow lashed out at the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, the body which administrates the eighteen cane-farming branches. ASR has maintained that the decision to reduce quota of fair-trade sugar purchased is because of EU markets. But the B.S.C.F.A. has taken some hits because that Association was recently cited for serious non-compliances during a fair-trade audit. The PM today stated that if the B.S.C.F.A. does not get its house in order – they won’t have to worry about a reduction in quota – because there won’t be a quota.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The fair-trade premiums are not paid to the poor cane farmers as you well know; they are paid to the association. And it is as a consequence of the irregularities and mismanagement of the association that decertification has occurred for a second time in the history of fair-trade, in the short history of fair-trade. What’s been the window, five years…and this is the second time the B.S.C.F.A., led by your people, people like Ortega, who contested a P.U.P. convention to try to become the standard bearer for Orange Walk North and lost terribly. People like Ortega and the one to whom he lost, Munchy Cervantes; it is under the stewardship of people like that that the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association lost its certification for the second time. And I make the point again, unless they can regain that certification, it doesn’t matter whether the fair-trade premiums are reduced. Because if they are big or small, they cannot get nothing…not a penny. So tell them first of all to get their house in order. Over the five years, that B.S.C.F.A., between 2008 and 2013 got forty-four point eight million dollars out of fair-trade. Was that forty-four point eight million dollars spent on the poor cane farmer such as the gentleman whose name you called? Was that forty-four point eight million dollars spent on the poor farmers that you say you are here to champion this afternoon? Why was there earlier the decertification? What about all the monies that have gone missing? What about the horrendous administration cost of the B.S.C.F.A.? Because of people having the new vehicles and paying themselves this and that and the other and the poor farmer getting a pittance in terms of any kind of assistance out of the fair-trade premiums?”

 

Tate & Lyle has recently written a letter to the B.S.C.F.A. clarifying that the reduction will be effective in the 2014-2015 crop, as will the change in payment schedule.

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