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Nov 24, 2015

Ministry of Agriculture Asked to Intervene in Sugar Price Crisis

Jose Alpuche

Tonight, a tripartite body comprised of sugar cane farmers from various associations in the north is awaiting a response from the Ministry of Agriculture in respect of a request for government intervention in the ongoing sugar crisis.  The associations, including the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, are turning to Minister of Agriculture Gaspar Vega to get involved in the setting of sugar prices.  While the Belize Sugar Industries Limited maintains that it cannot change the existing first estimates for the upcoming crop sold to the European Union, farmers are asking government to increase the cost of sugar purchased locally.  News Five spoke by phone with Agriculture C.E.O. Jose Alpuche who says that a meeting will be held on Friday to discuss the matter.

 

On the Phone: Jose Alpuche, C.E.O., Ministry of Agriculture

“What we have, we are attempting to arrange a meeting with the three associations and the DPM for Friday and actually I am in the process of attempting to confirm that right now, you know, so that we could discuss the full plethora of issues on the table right now, you know.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“As it stands, it seems as though the Belize Sugar Industries Limited is very much fixed in the estimations and assumptions that have been put forward.  As a matter of fact, if I‘m not mistaken, they are saying that those figures are set by the European Union.  So essentially they can’t really do anything to at least meet the demands of the sugar cane farmers.  Do you see this, do you see a favorable outcome for both parties in the midst of all of what‘s taking place?”

 

On the Phone: Jose Alpuche

“Isani, I believe that we have to keep in mind that what is being put forward is a first price estimate and that estimate is subject to change and it‘s subject to change based on market performance.  And what we need to do is to have a dialogue to have all the parties better understand the parameters and to, of course, try to see how much money can be paid upfront and how the farmers can get as much money in their first payment.  But there are market realities that we have to consider.  I think we will have that dialogue on Friday where we can better understand their perspective and where we would be able to also explain government‘s perspective on all of this, you know.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Tentatively speaking, ahead of this meeting on Friday, what, if any, can be government‘s intervention in this entire picture?”

 

On the Phone: Jose Alpuche

“There is a request, as you know, for a price increase and that is one of the few elements that government would have control or say over and that matter would have to be discussed at the Cabinet level.”

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