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Dec 15, 2014

P.U.P. Leader Supports Decision by Farmers

Francis Fonseca

On Sunday a majority of cane-farmers voted to start the crop, accepting the proposals agreed to by the B.S.C.F.A. and B.S.I.  As we told you, it’s not a popular decision in all quarters, since many believe that A.S.R./B.S.I. got everything it wanted from the very beginning, while cane-farmers had to bend on every point. Today, P.U.P. Leader Francis Fonseca told News Five that they have to accept the decision of the farmers, even if he agrees that the decision has taken them back to square one.

 

Francis Fonseca, P.U.P. Leader

“We have been in support of the cane farmers; we have been in dialogue with them; we have shared with them our views on these issues, but we have always made it very clear to them that what is of paramount importance, what is of priority, is the future of the industry. And so we accept the decision of the farmers. I agree with Fred Ortega that there is obviously a great level of concern going forward because as he put it, the farmers are right back where they were….at the beginning of this entire process. Some would say they’ve even gotten deeper into a hole. And certainly we don’t support any move in the direction of turning our cane farmers into mere cane cutters. They have to be an integral part of this industry moving forward. We always have to have—as I have said consistently—a tripartite approach to the future of this industry: government the cane farmers and the private sector, B.S.I./ASR. When we can work together, when that partnership is working, that is when the industry thrives and grows and develops. The government was absent for a very, very long time and until it became politically difficult for them to continue ignoring the problem, that is when they stepped in…at the very last minute. The Sugar Industry Control Board has been absent; they have finally been moved into action. So we are glad that the crop will start in the very near future. We are glad for that because that’s important to the economy of Belize, the economy of the north. But we are also very concerned about the future status of the cane farmer and that must be something that we continue to review and monitor and really be concerned about. And that has been our message to the cane farmers even after yesterday’s meeting.”

 

Regardless of what happens, by signing the agreement the farmers will be tied down for at least three years.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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