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Jul 25, 2017

Raise cane, says Jose Mai; the more the merrier

Mai does have some suggestions for the commercial agreement. He wants it ironclad that, with the accompanying investments in the sugar mill, that not a stalk of cane is left in any field in Orange Walk or Corozal – it should all be ground at Tower Hill. A.S.R./B.S.I., he told us, should take every opportunity to grind cane because the alternative is not having enough to produce the quality of sugar that Belize can be proud of selling internationally and farmers can benefit from.

 

Jose Mai, Area Rep., Orange Walk South

“Where I have a serious concern is – and if I would be the leader of the associations I would say what I need to put in that agreement, now that we have the opportunity to re-negotiate, is that A.S.R. be responsible to mill all the cane farmers’ cane out there. That is the critical issue here.”

 

Reporter

“Even if the mill cannot grind to capacity?”

 

Jose Mai

Jose Mai

“Exactly. They are saying now that they want to invest twenty-two million dollars to increase milling because they want to start doing more direct consumption sugar – wonderful! As a matter of fact, they said so from when they arrived, when they set foot in Belize, that they would expand milling to one-point-nine million tons; that is why we have cane out there, because farmers believed in A.S.R., they believed in what they said – that they would provide extension service; they would provide financing; they would provide machinery service and none of that is happening. But forget that. If you want to invest twenty-two million dollars to expand the production of DC sugars, supply the Caribbean market, wonderful; go ahead and do so. Farmers have not said that they will interrupt the mill; none at all! We did that once, and we learned the hard way, we could not deliver all our cane. Today, what we want is for A.S.R. to process all the cane farmers’ cane out there, because the most horrifying story is when the price of your product goes down, compounded by the inability of the mill to process our cane – it is a terrible story to read. You don’t want that to happen. So we wish all the best to A.S.R., we want the government to continue giving the fiscal incentives to A.S.R.; but we also want them to understand that four point five million dollars of fuel subsidy is a drop in the bucket; that represents three percent of the income that the sugar industry generates – at least A.S.R. generates, so it’s only the drop in the bucket. In reference to the negotiations, we have to be fair, and we have to be very clean when it comes so that everybody benefits.”

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