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Jan 13, 2015

Caneros Suggest PetroCaribe Funds to Replace Disbursed Fairtrade Monies

It is safe to say tonight, that the sugar industry has plunged into further chaos. According to stakeholders, there is still abundant uncertainty as to when the mill at Tower Hill will crank up to give way to the start of the crop.  Five hundred thousand tons of cane is required by ASR/B.S.I. but that target cannot easily be determined. Following the press conference by the Prime Minister last Thursday, a number of splinter groups have been forming and that situation is creating more problems than it is resolving because the amount of cane that each group can deliver remains undetermined. This means that quotas cannot be set or pro-rated.  Quotas can only be distributed after all splinter groups and associations have submitted the quantity of sugar cane their groups can provide for milling.  So far, the splinter groups are far from being complete and it does not seem that they will soon be and the industry in complete disarray. That’s one of the fundamental problems facing farmers tonight. The other has to do with the disbursal of four million dollars in Fairtrade funds which continues across all eighteen branches of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, despite notice from the certification body that the monies are to be used only for various agricultural projects.  Checks are being distributed to members of the association, following a unanimous decision during a special general meeting held on January fourth for monies to be paid out.  While it may not be the collective position of the B.S.C.F.A., it has been suggested by at least one of its branches that government substitutes the disbursement with PetroCaribe funds.  After all, the money is being rolled out for numerous initiatives across the country, so why not come to the aid of financially strapped farmers.  This morning, we spoke with former vice-chair Alfredo Ortega of B.S.C.F.A.’s committee of management and he told us that a meeting was underway to determine if a date can be set for the start of the crop.

Alfredo Ortega

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

“As we speak right now, a meeting is being held between the eighteen branch chairmen where they will be presenting the results of the meeting they held during the weekend on Saturday and Sunday and that will be presented and the committee of management will then gather all the information taken out of the results of these meetings and they will see what is the amount of the farmers that have signed in favor or against.  And based on the result of that that information will be sent to the relevant authority which is ASR/B.S.I. to the SICB and, I believe, to the prime minister of Belize to see what is the outcome of that and from there I believe that a date should be set for the signature to happen in order for a crop to start.”


Isani Cayetano

“With regards to the Fairtrade, what’s the present situation or the current standing as it concerns the disbursal of that four million dollars?”


Alfredo Ortega

“Well, it has started.  The disbursement started yesterday for the different branches but also there around the meetings, even in my branch meeting farmers have said, “Well, presently we are stranded in a financial situation because of where we are at this point and some of them also thought that we should send a letter to the prime minister to use part of the PetroCaribe funds so that that four million can be replaced and then Fairtrade programs can then continue.  So that is something that is placed in my branch, I don’t know if it was also mentioned in other branches but at least we can say that we’re on the way and on the road that farmers are expressing that the government should now help the farmers with that PetroCaribe funds to replace those four million so that the projects can continue and we can maintain the Fairtrade certification.”

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5 Responses for “Caneros Suggest PetroCaribe Funds to Replace Disbursed Fairtrade Monies”

  1. David says:

    Vote is getting expensive in Belize; so the caneros want GOB to buy their votes for $700. a piece? And then have the PUP screaming, Barrow bribed the voters of the north, when election time roll around. Imagine the very supporters of PUP, have the face of brass, with tongue in cheek, they are asking for hands out; after they are the same ones who said; “no, to signing the agreement with ASR/BSI.” Forcing them to deprive themselves of the advance they would have received on their delivery of cane to the factory for Christmas; there was no need to go into Fair Trade Funds.

  2. jahkid says:

    Is cane benefiting the nation? How about the caneros? Why is it again they in financial crisis? Is there mismagement by their association leaders?

  3. Rose says:

    If new organizations have been formed there is no way for you guys to qualify for money from Fairtrade funds, remember that is funded to BSCFA. So, you guys make up uno mind on what uno want.

  4. jake says:

    So the farmers want to kill fair trade and Ortega wants it to stay alive, this way he can still BLAME THE PM, because they are greedy and really not helping the farmers, only themselves!!

  5. Justicia Tierra Libertad says:

    People should start having a mind of there very own!! Inform yourself, question things and don’t settle on what is being said by your neighbor or worse by your political idol.
    We the caneros/caneras work very hard, sacrifice many things in life to see our children educated have a better future. It is very easy to make irrelevant remarks when its not your very own livelihood at stake.
    To those ignorant persons out there, you think because we work the land, we have very long hours without a decent sleep or a warm plate of food we are not able to stand for what we know is legally our right? All we want is a fair agreement. We don’t want to be taken advantage in any way or form. Why does a company have to take all the benefits? why are being ripped off our very ownership? Why are we being denied the possibility of having a decent future?

    “If there is no JUSTICE for the people, let there be NO PEACE for the government” -Emilio Zapata

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