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Jan 19, 2015

B.S.C.F.A. Signs on to ASR/B.S.I.

Like it or not, protest or not, duress or not…the general assembly of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association passed on Sunday a resolution to sign onto the agreement with ASR/B.S.I.  That means that pending normal pre-crop procedures by the SICB and the SCPC – like verification of quotas and delivery schedule – the 2015 crop is a go. The emergency session in San Roman on Sunday became necessary after ASR/B.S.I. announced that it could not accept delivery from the B.S.C.F.A. without general assembly mandate. It is believed that was the final obstacle in the road to a hopefully less volatile future for the industry. So with the resolution passed and desperation long set in, what exactly happens next? Mike Rudon was at the meeting and has the story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

Only about eight hundred farmers attended the meeting in San Roman, and there was only one item on the agenda – the passing of a resolution to start the crop. These sessions, and we’ve attended a lot of them recently, are generally drawn out, lasting well into the afternoon. In fact, we’ve grown rather fond of the tamales handed out for lunch. But sadly, there was none of that on Sunday. Only a short presentation in which B.S.C.F.A. C.E.O., Oscar Alonzo, read the resolution, and then a request by BSCFA Chairman Ezequiel Cansino for a vote…


And just like that…it was done – everything as anticipated by the B.S.C.F.A.’s Committee of Management.


Ezequiel Cansino

Ezequiel Cansino, Chairman, Committee of Management, B.S.C.F.A.

“We just came to get an approval from the membership to go ahead and sign an agreement with BSI and well, we came straight to the point and the cane farmers responded as positively as we expected. So we don’t have anything else to do to, just to inform BSI and try our best to sign as soon as possible tomorrow. As from tomorrow we’ll start to work on the list because we have to clear our list from those other members who have already joined other associations. So we have to clean this list so as to get a clear picture of how many cane farmers will stay with us and also the amount of production that we will be managing.”


And verifying those lists is important, because new Associations have signed with ASR/B.S.I. – including the Progressive Cane Farmers Association comprised of three branches formerly with the B.S.C.F.A.  So it’s critical that the Association conduct a self-analysis to determine exactly where it stands at this point.


Ezequiel Cansino

“If we speak about Patchakan, what we understand up to now is that only one or two farmers stayed with the B.S.C.F.A.  Guinea Grass Branch is a total of sixty-four thousand tons of production…we did the counting on Friday and we saw that we have about fifty percent of that production in the B.S.C.F.A.  When we talk about San Estevan, we have up to now about eighty thousand tons, a little bit more than fifty percent of the total amount. So we have fifteen branches that are full B.S.C.F.A. and San Estevan which stayed about fifty percent, and Guinea Grass about fifty percent, so in all we have seventeen branches that will still be with the B.S.C.F.A.”


The next few days will be taken up with logistics and procedures, but there is still the matter of those the Prime Minister dubbed radicals one day, and extremists the next. They were not present at the meeting on Sunday, but they maintain that the agreement with ASR/B.S.I. is not beneficial to farmers, and they also maintain that government collaborated with the multi-national giant to break the farmers. So where do these loud voices fit in the Association?


Ezequiel Cansino

“We don’t have any intention to expel them from the B.S.C.F.A.  They are members of the Association and they are representing their own cane farmers. In the Association we work or accept the majority voting, so if the majority continues to vote in favour of what we are doing…well, the majority wins. And if they have their own opinions then we accept them and we respect their opinion.


So are farmers happy with the agreement, or just happy that crop will start, no matter what the agreement? We figure it doesn’t matter much…at least at this particular moment in time.


Oscar Alonzo

Oscar Alonzo, Chief Executive Officer, B.S.C.F.A.

“Well, it’s what was necessary, okay. The farmers need to start the crop and sometimes in any negotiation process you win some and you lose some. This is not the final thing. Farmers will have to continue to work with B.S.I.  If you need to retreat a bit to advance in the future, I think that is something noble, something natural. So although there are other members, other associations, we hope that we can work with them together, that everyone can work together for the future and prosperity of the industry.”


An industry that, for the first time in history, will be seeing delivery to the factory by three separate organizations. Mike Rudon for News Five.


Acting on the resolution, this morning at about eleven, B.S.C.F.A. signed on with ASR/B.S.I., the crop is now set to begin by next week.

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1 Response for “B.S.C.F.A. Signs on to ASR/B.S.I.”

  1. Ricky Malthus says:

    Let’s see delivery to five different factories instead on one monopoly.

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