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Aug 2, 2017

Cane Farmers Back in Fairtrade’s Good Graces

Oscar Alonzo

At the start of the sugar crop last December, farmer Eloy Escalante was effectively disowned by the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association. The Association was facing a third suspension in eight years from Fairtrade after it was discovered that a “phantom farmer” – the son of Government minister Edmond Castro – was granted administration of his quota in the village of San Estevan for three years because the Sugar Cane Production Committee was unable to change the name on the land.  C.E.O. Oscar Alonzo says that the B.S.C.F.A. acted quickly by striking off Escalante’s name from their list of active farmers and got the suspension reversed.

 

Oscar Alonzo, C.E.O., B.S.C.F.A.

“Flocert accepted our corrective measures that we had; they lifted the suspension. We have already begun to receive part of the premium for this crop that was due, and we are implementing the measures that we indicated that we would do to deal with this non-compliance that they had identified. We hope that the Sugar Board can put in processes that would try to prevent this in the future, because that incident, that non-compliance that they found was something that was out of our control. B.S.C.F.A. cannot register a cane farmer under the law, it is the Sugar Cane Production Committee that does that. And to register cane farmers, who can deliver cane to the factory, they have to go and inspect his fields, check his production and then certify he has so much cane that he can deliver; the list is prepared, all these farmers certify they have that cane, the factory accepts that list and accepts its cane from those. Fairtrade said that our certified members must the cane to deliver.”

 

The B.S.C.F.A. now has its own internal control to monitor movement and transactions concerning cane farmers’ lands.

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