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Jan 8, 2015

B.S.C.F.A. Proceeds With Disbursal of Fairtrade Funds to Cane Farmers

There is still no date for the start of the sugar crop and farmers are encouraged to deal directly with the sugar company. While this represents a blow to the B.S.C.F.A., the association is still facing major hurdles. There is a looming threat from Fairtrade on the disbursement of funds and there is the possibility of defection of large farmers. But worse the demise of the well-established B.S.C.F.A. is a distinct possibility.  Isani Cayetano has the reaction from the players in the industry.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

On Wednesday, a stern warning was issued by Fairtrade International to the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association regarding the disbursal of some four million dollars to its membership.  The notice succeeds a motion passed by B.S.C.F.A. on Sunday in which farmers demanded money earmarked for projects to benefit them.  This morning in Orange Walk, caneros from across the sugar belt descended on B.S.C.F.A.’s office to collect their checks.

 

Ezekiel Cansino

Ezekiel Cansino, Chair, Committee of Management, B.S.C.F.A.

“After we disburse this four million and paying off our employees there is still the possibility that we will have money remaining and we are putting this money specifically for the child labor program.”

 

Reporter
“Are you still laying off some employees?”

 

Ezequiel Cansino

“Yes, that’s definite.  We can’t keep them because there will not be any money to pay their salaries.  What we are contemplating is only about two field officers that might stay for the program of child labor.”

 

Reporter

“How many will remain for the whole association?”

 

Ezequiel Cansino

“When we speak of these employees that will be laid off will be the employees of the B.S.C.F.A. Fairtrade programs, not for the divisions and right now we are talking about sixteen employees that will be laid off too from the B.S.C.F.A.”

 

The letter, addressed to Ezequiel Cansino, Chair of the Committee of Management, came from Julia Clark, a consultant with Tate & Lyle Sugars, who empathizes with the farmers but asserts that B.S.C.F.A., through its actions, may have entered into non-compliance with the fair trade movement.  Meanwhile, former vice-chair Alfredo Ortega responded to comments made during the prime minister’s press conference.

 

Alfredo Ortega

Alfredo Ortega, Former Vice-Chair, B.S.C.F.A.

“I believe that the conference and what the prime minister stated, I believe that he should have come to the farmers on Sunday when we had the meeting to see if it was indeed a radical group that was calling for a better solution to the agreement or if it was something that was done on mischief. I think that he needs to come on the ground and see the suffering of the Belizean people, of the cane farmers, and the negative impact that that agreement has against the farmers. But I wouldn’t call myself a rebel. We are looking for a just or justice on behalf of the farmers.”

 

As to the fate of the association in light of talks from other branches, Cansino says that if the San Estevan branch were to defect from B.S.C.F.A. it would force his resignation as chairman of the committee of management.

 

Ezekiel Cansino

“If San Estevan…let’s say if San Estevan branch by tomorrow, the entire branch decides to walk off and sign off from B.S.C.F.A., well I have to automatically resign from this association. On the other hand, I don’t think that if San Estevan goes with the decision to sign as an association apart from B.S.C.F.A. that it will be the complete break up of B.S.C.F.A. because there are other branches that are willing to stay with B.S.C.F.A. So B.S.C.F.A. will start maybe from zero again.”

 

Farmers in Corozal meanwhile, have indicated that they intend to also break away from the association.

 

Ezekiel Cansino

“What they have indicated is that they will start to work like it was administered before. Because before Fairtrade Council, Corozal had its own administration and Orange Walk was apart. But they did exist, but they become let’s say active maybe when negotiations came to the bump with B.S.I. but apart from that they were completely separated.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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3 Responses for “B.S.C.F.A. Proceeds With Disbursal of Fairtrade Funds to Cane Farmers”

  1. Cinty says:

    ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THIS STORY. This sector of the economy contributes 2% of our GDP. And it’s boring. Use your imagination and find something else to fill in the hour. Go visit a Child Care center or an Assisted-Living facility. Or do something on the plight of the girls at Rose Garden (or whatever the new name is). How about a collage of cold cases? There are some interesting cold cases like the murder of Coombs at the Port a few years ago. Stick a mic in the Compol’s face and hold him accountable. Just do something.

  2. Jesus says:

    divide and conquer in 2015

  3. jake says:

    I can only speak to the CALEDONIA branch, there was an election for a representative to BSCFA ran one had the most votes, BUT he did not win because the one in place did not want to come out. So the next weekend there was a next election, and the one in place still did not want to come out but he had no choice this time.
    The one who is in place now was in place two years ago, he stepped aside so some one else could have a turn. He was asked to, in public, hand over the keys AND the ACCOUNTING for the branch to the one who won he did so at a public meeting immediately! There was more than $54,000 in the account for the Caledonia branch. While in place he offered to help the school but the principle refused his assistance. He would also help with funeral arrangements, coffin wake etc.
    Now that the winner got in place the LOSER handed the key over but the winner said he learned one thing and refused to take the key and told the LOSER to make a public meeting. THIS WAS NEVER DONE! The elections were in October. The loser was on the finance committee and he STILL goes in to work but has no position. He also told his group to say no to starting the crop.
    Some how what you are seeing is someone who has something to hide.

    I guess this is why the farmers want the fair trade money, rather than have the association board of thieves look after the money it would be better to dissolve fair trade all together, in my opinion there was over 5 million and the farmers should taken five and left BSCFA with the change!
    To further this illustration Alfredo Ortega, Former Vice-Chair, B.S.C.F.A. was taking his family on holidays, public knowledge, at the meeting Sunday past he owed $11,000 maintenance and the farmers want to know where he got the money to pay his EX. In this report he says “that the PM should see the suffering of the Belizean people, of the cane farmers, and the negative impact that that agreement has against the farmers. But I wouldn’t call myself a rebel. We are looking for a just or justice on behalf of the farmers.” He does not want the season to start either!! To me it looks like he cares only about fair trade money, and after his last fiasco why is he still in place?

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