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Jun 30, 2016

2016 Sugar Cane Crop Closes

The 2016 sugar crop closed on Sunday and the numbers show that the crop was a healthy one and even though there was a small reduction in sugar production, the crop held its own. Today, ASR/B.S.I. and stakeholders acknowledged that a number of factors contributed to the reduction.  But all be told, both sides welcome this year’s results.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The culmination of the 2016 crop rounds off another productive season for the sugar industry.  Though it isn’t quite a banner year, the figures this time around remain solid.  Over the past twenty-nine weeks, more sugar cane has been milled than last year.  Of course, the crop began on time and was five weeks longer than the previous season.

 

Belizario Carballo

Belizario Carballo, Chief Financial Officer, ASR/B.S.I.

“Last year, we milled one million, one hundred and eighty-six thousand tons of cane.  This year we milled in the twenty-nine weeks of crop, one million, three hundred and thirteen thousand tons of cane.  This is all metric tons.  Last year, however, we produced a hundred and forty-two thousand tons of sugar in the twenty-four weeks of crop, compared to this year where we produced a hundred and thirty-three thousand, eight hundred tons of sugar in the twenty-nine weeks of crop.  So it was a good crop, we had a record in terms of cane milled.  At one point three thousand tons, it is our highest on record in terms of cane milled.  In terms of sugar produced, it was again our second best at almost a hundred and thirty-four thousand tons of sugar.”

 

But production wasn’t without its share of hiccups.  According to the chairman of the Sugar Cane Production Committee there have been issues with harvest and delivery.

 

Jose Novelo

Jose Novelo, Chair, Sugar Cane Production Committee

“I believe that this year because we introduced a measure where farmers were only able to deliver the cane that they had as their quota, that prompted these farmers, particularly the harvesting leaders to also harvest the cane that other farmers had.  And so, we believe that that has helped.  The problem with the harvest and delivery manifests itself mostly when we have wet periods and during those wet periods it is very difficult for farmers to take out their cane and bring to the factory.  So those are primarily some of the issues that we have to deal with.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What is the present relationship between ASR/B.S.I. and the sugar cane farmers, in terms of everything that has happened over the past year and moving forward towards the next crop season?”

 

Belizario Carballo

“Well as you know, we have signed up to a commercial agreement which really is the root of the sort of business aspect of it, of the relationship and so there is no issues there.  We have in place a commercial agreement but we do continue to be engaged with the associations in terms of how we can improve on the sort of operational aspects of the industry.  One major area that we feel, for example, that needs to be improved, needs to change is the whole system of harvesting and delivery.  We’ve had significant periods in this crop that we had what we call “out-of-cane”.  In other words, days when the factory was not receiving its requirement in terms of cane supply.”

 

Perhaps what is most striking is that notwithstanding the fact that more milling was done this year, less sugar has been produced.  That shortfall is the result of several factors, including a surplus of cane from the last crop.

 

Belizario Carballo

“Significant cane was left unharvested and that unharvested cane from last year was stood over to this crop and so that cane had more than twelve months of growth and therefore had past its maturity point and so clearly was of less quality than what we would have liked.  So that affected the quality overall for this crop.  As well, because we were correcting the cane cycle, the cane that was harvested last year in February when the crop began was harvested this year in December when the crop began.  So that cane only had about ten months old of growth, as opposed to the normal twelve months of growth.  So a combination of that plus some weather conditions, we had a bit more rain during the crop than last year.  Those conditions in combination resulted in the fall in the tons cane to ton sugar ratio.”

 

And that fact is widely accepted by farmers.  The Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association anticipated a higher ratio but is satisfied with the final numbers.  After all, says Everaldo Uk, their expectation was only off by a fraction.

 

Everaldo Uk

Everaldo Uk, Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association

“The TCTS was a little bit high and we cannot compare it from last year.  The problems that we had really was the early start of crop.  We have had two years of delays and this crop we tried to adjust it to a normal crop and that is one of the problems that we faced.  Another was the weather, the climate affected us a lot and that is why we ended up with this high TCTS, you know.  But I believe that we were expecting ten, a TCTS of ten and we ended up at nine point eight and that was in our favor.  So we must congratulate our farmers for making this effort, working together and that is one of the main points that we need to congratulate our farmers, farmers in general but especially those that belong to our association.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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