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Nov 11, 2014

B.S.I. Commences Information Session with Caneros Sans B.S.C.F.A.

There is a crisis of significant proportions brewing in the sugar-cane industry, lifeblood of the north and one of the country’s largest export-earners. A.S.R.-owned B.S.I. on Monday announced that following a failure to come to terms, it would be bypassing the B.S.C.F.A. completely. The company has now initiated discussions with the leaders of the three hundred and seventy reaping groups in the eighteen branches of the Association. The intention is to sign agreements with those groups, and even with individual farmers, leaving the B.S.C.F.A. out in the cold. Without any delay, B.S.I. held its first structured information session this morning with selected cane-farmers and group leaders to sell the idea and hopefully, to get some signatures on the dotted line. Mike Rudon was in Orange Walk this morning and has the story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

Approximately two hundred caneros, many of them leaders of reaping groups, attended the session with B.S.I. this morning. As we found out, it’s an indication of definite interest, but not by any means an expression of unequivocal support for ASR/B.S.I.’s plan. Factory reps are basing their sales pitch on the fact that if the farmers do not deliver cane then they get no returns for their hard work and investment. It is a very persuasive selling point.


Terencio Chan

Terencio Chan, Cane Farmer, OW Branch

“The reason why you see a lot of cane farmers here today is because they are concerned that the Association is not doing its job properly. Because the Association had quite a long time to seal on this negotiation and they were dragging their feet. And they have reached up to this stage where cane-farmers have a lot of mature cane in their fields and if the crop doesn’t start as scheduled definitely a lot of cane farmers will lose.”


Mac McLachlan, Vice-President, International Relations, ASR

“It’s obvious by the attendance today the amount of interest that farmers have in ensuring that we have a successful crop. That doesn’t come as a surprise to me. We have been having outreach meetings with many farmers in the last eight months or so and we know the views of farmers.”


Mac McLachlan

But it doesn’t seem that clear cut, at least from what we saw today. On one hand, the farmers are dissatisfied with the B.S.C.F.A. which hasn’t been able to reach an agreement with B.S.I. On that same hand is the realization that the crop season cannot be delayed for very critical financial reasons. But there is still very clear concern about the agreement being proposed by B.S.I., at least on two main points – the ownership of the cane and the proposed formula for payment of bagasse.


Terencio Chan

“They are saying that once you deliver the cane on the scale actually B.S.I. takes ownership of the cane, then why is it that cane-farmers have to wait so long for the payment of the cane and actually what I really don’t understand is what they are paying us for. They are not paying us for the tons of cane. They are paying us for the tons of sugar that is extracted from our tonnage of cane. So if we are waiting so long for payment to be realized, that means that whatever by-product comes from our cane we have ownership of it and B.S.I. is supposed to be committed to pay us for whatever by-product comes out from our sugar-cane.”


Mac McLachlan

“The sugar company has to have ownership of the cane and the sugar that is produced, because that is its key asset at the end of the day. That is the running cost and it also have to have ownership in order to sell that sugar. Nobody would contract to buy it if it wasn’t owned by the mill.”


Ellis Cal

Ellis Cal, Leader, Reaping Group, San Lazaro Branch

“I am not in agreement with it because it says it here. They can play with the numbers because the cane will be their sole property, as what happened to the bagasse as what the Association had been striving for, fighting for. “


Jose Mai, Cane-farmer

“After I have signed over my ownership of sugar-cane I have nothing to enquire about any of the by-products. You know that I believe as a cane-farmer that I should be compensated for my bagasse. And now it shouldn’t even be called bagasse because they’re talking about fibre.”


Mac McLachlan

“What we have done, and I think I need to make it clear…we have made the concession. We have proceeded to pay something for bagasse even though we don’t make a profit from which to take that money. We have to prepare for the future of the industry and we have to do it on a sound commercial basis in order to ensure that the industry is sustainable in the future. That’s always been our position on bagasse and that remains our position.”


And there are other concerns, mainly logistical. B.S.I. has proposed two agreements – one to be signed by leaders of reaping groups and another to be signed by individual farmers.


Jose Mai

“If you listened to the questions posed by a few of the farmers, the question of logistics…how will it work? If I am still a member of the Association, but I deliver cane individually, will I be charged cess? Will that cess go to the Association? Will it be given to me? So these are the questions that are coming up. Logistically it will be very difficult. If you have a reaping group of twenty thousand tons and that consists of eighty farmers, and a few farmers sign individually and a few don’t, how is it that the leader of the reaping group is going to organize his daily delivery?”


Jose Mai

The impression we got today is that some farmers are willing to sign just so that cane can be delivered, and then open new negotiations with B.S.I. on critical points like ownership and bagasse payment. We’re not too sure that the option of negotiation is still on the table, though, since B.S.I. has apparently conceded as much as it is willing to.


Terencio Chan

“A new body can be formed to negotiate with B.S.I.. Because B.S.I. has actually said that negotiations are open, so we can send in our comments, and whatever we need, wherever we need improvement, we do that and that is precisely what I think the move is supposed to be.”


Mac McLachlan

“I have to be very clear that we are not making any further promises on this agreement. However, as I said earlier to the farmers, we are open to listening to their views and to what they have said. We have a practical difficulty obviously…we need to have one agreement for everybody and we need to be very clear what is in that agreement. But we have encouraged farmers to let us know their views, to come back and tell us what they think. That’s the best we can do at the moment.”


There was no clear sign of conquest at this morning’s session with the cane-farmers from the Orange Walk Branch. But we were informed that B.S.I. anticipated a much more positive response from cane-farmers from the Corozal Branch at a meeting scheduled for this afternoon. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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3 Responses for “B.S.I. Commences Information Session with Caneros Sans B.S.C.F.A.”

  1. Ricky Malthus says:

    The cane farmers must boycott ASR, sell their sugarcane to the Mexican sugar factory in Chetumal, and get government to reverse the monopoly provided to ASR as well as the fiscal incentives, and tax holidays. In the meantime, the cane farmers can buy their own sugar factory and start making international contacts to sell their sugar. It is past the time for this home grown industry to grow up and become independent of foreign domination.

  2. Louisville, Ky. says:

    Three words: Divide and conquer!!

    Old tactic that has been tried, tested and proven. Same thing that obtained down south dividing the Maya with the drilling, is going to happen with this bagasse issue.
    You mark my words!

  3. CEO says:

    They do not want to meet with the BSCFA because they were standing up to their crap! Do not allow them to divide you all. Unity is strength! Old slavery tactic!

    The can say what ever they want but they cannot sell one sugar crystal if you do not sell them any cane. All it will take is for you to sacrifice one years crop and they will talk and listen then.

    They are counting on you not having the cahones to make that difficult stand. If you sacrifice one year’s crop you will earn much more in the end. If you do not stand up now you will be their slave for the rest of your life.

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