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Nov 27, 2015

Caneros Meet with Minister of Agriculture and B.S.I. Officials in Sugar City

This morning stakeholders in the sugar industry met at SICB headquarters in Orange Walk. For the first time in three years, the crop season is set to start when it should, but there are critical issues which need to be resolved including the first payment for sugar. That and other matters were on the table for the session which ended after one this afternoon. Mike Rudon was in Orange Walk and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

The meeting today was held to discuss those issues critical to the start of the crop, including fuel subsidies, repair of sugar roads and license fees relief. This session also included important discussion of an increase in the price paid for locally consumed sugar, a cause dear to the farmers for the past two crops.

 

Gaspar Vega, Minister of Agriculture

Gaspar Vega

“I want to announce that the government did approve twenty-five cents increase per pound for locally consumed sugar. Some people thought that it could be even more because of the price of the sugar in neighbouring countries which are Mexico and Guatemala. Even at seventy-five cents per pound we’re still lower than the price sold in Chetumal or Melchor.”

 

The Statutory Instrument to put that price increase into effect should be passed shortly. The sooner the better for farmers, since farmers are somewhat distressed about the estimated first payment per ton of sugar to be paid this crop, thirty-five dollars and thirty-three cents.

 

Gaspar Vega

“They’re also arguing that after they get the first payment, right away they would need more money than just to pay for the harvesting to just prepare the fields, because if they wait for the second payment most cane-fields would be in the position where the fertilizer would not be effective. So they still need a little change for them to be able to reinvest in the fields right after the harvesting.”

 

That increase is expected to offset at least somewhat, the very low first payment driven down by falling world market prices.

 

Gaspar Vega

“That will assist them. That should be giving them another four dollars and sixty cents more per ton, so instead of thirty-five thirty-three, or something like that, they should probably get another three dollars. Because the four-sixty…the way it works BSI only pays a percentage up front. You have to remember that ASR only gets paid for the sugar when it’s sold. So the first payment that they make is not money that they have collected from the sugar that they will be selling. They either have that in savings, which I doubt, or they will have to make a loan. Those are the challenges that the industry has to learn about.”

 

One challenge which farmers are very aware of every single crop is the condition of sugar roads. In the best of times, some roads accessing fields are little more than dirt tracks. With the incessant rains the country has been experiencing, many will become impassable.

 

Gaspar Vega

“Every year we do improvements on some sugar roads. In some cases we don’t service the same roads every year, and in others we do. You know right after crop is when we have the heavy rains, and even though we have those heavy rains the farmers still need to make use of those roads because they’re either replanting, fertilizing, cleaning their cane-fields, and today a lot of cane-farmers have heavy equipment, and unless we build the sugar roads the way we build the highways, we’ll always have repairs to be done.”

 

The Minister of Agriculture is confident that it has done what had to be done for the success of the industry this year.

 

Gaspar Vega

“The government gives free licensing for all vehicles used for the harvesting of sugar cane. The government gives two million fuel subsidy every year to cane-farmers. The government has not invested less than two million every year for servicing of sugar roads. One time when we had much more rain than now…that year we invested three point five million. The government does not collect any import duty on any machinery or equipment used for agriculture period, not only for the cane-farmers, so there’s not much more that we can waive.”

With that said, the season is set to start on December seventh. Mike Rudon reporting for News Five.

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3 Responses for “Caneros Meet with Minister of Agriculture and B.S.I. Officials in Sugar City”

  1. Small association says:

    Mr vega you forgot tu help small farmers that bring fresh vegetables to the belizean people, valley of peace farmer you haven’t never given free license and never have received subsidy in fuel , road have never being fix by the government. Instead of helping you have take there land and sold to big companies ,corruption is what have done.

  2. Ricky Malthus says:

    All I know is that Mr. Vega is an economic dunce, that GOB should not be setting price but the ” Market ” of supply and demand unless we live in a corrupt dictatorship, that BSI/ASR will leverage their monopoly to oppress Belizeans economically. I am and was always vigorously opposed to this monopoly but all monopolies as the people are the ones who are hurt but who pay to get hurt by monopolies. I cannot see the plausibility why Barrow allow this economic travesty under his watch as history has already judged him to be stupid, larcenous, sick, non-compos mentis. Where are the smart people in Belize who must rise up to defeat this monstrosity?

  3. Janet says:

    He is boasting with all the investment they make every year. I ask myself why don’t they make one investment and fix the dam road one time instead of doing is every year. they can only spend so much money over and over on the same thing. those money could be use for other important things.

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