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May 4, 2011

No shortage of sugar despite dwindling cane supply

Up north, Sugar production at Tower Hill came to a grinding halt in mid-February.  The shutdown came when a pair of turbines at the BELCOGEN plant was rendered inoperable.  The faulty machinery was subsequently sent to Guatemala for urgent repairs and six weeks later the Belize Sugar Industries factory was back in business.  But tonight there is growing concern among farmers that there will be an insufficient supply of sugarcane this crop season as a result of climate change and other quality related problems they are facing in the fields.  Despite the scarcity of sugarcane to be milled within the next few weeks, Alfredo Ortega, Chairman of the Committee of Management of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, says that the shortage should not affect sugar supply.

Alfredo Ortega

Alfredo Ortega, Chairman, Committee of Management, B.S.C.F.A.

“I don’t believe it will be a scarcity of sugar.  What we are experiencing at this point in time is a scarcity in production, in sugarcane production.  But even though with the default in the relation to the amount of sugarcane production we are seeing a good… that is providing us a much better amount of sugar with a lower amount of sugarcane.  So the scarcity will be on us in regards to the sugarcane but not in sugar. As you know last year we had an extended crop [season] whereby we ended out way to the end of August and we’re experiencing at this point in time that those cane fields that were harvested between the months of July to the end of August, most of them if not all of them won’t be ready for harvesting in this crop [season].  And we had an amount of cane of over two hundred and fifty thousand tons of mature cane that was unable to be harvested last year and this year many farmers had experienced a full loss.  In some areas others had a seventy to eighty percent loss in those areas that were not harvested last year due to rat problems and the… problem that farmers experienced last year.  So these are issues that have harmed the production of cane and the other issue is the climate.  The weather that we have experienced, as you know last year we had rains almost the full harvesting season and it was very heavy rains that we experienced at that time and we had an amount of dry weather during the month of September and October and then we had another huge amount of rains.  From there we had experienced from since December up to today quite a high temperature that we are experiencing.  Even though this temperature is helping us in the harvesting, in the present harvesting that we are doing but it is damaging us in regards to the growth of the sugarcane.”

According to Ortega while the issue of extremely high temperatures is beyond their control they have taken measures to address the diseases plaguing their crops.

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2 Responses for “No shortage of sugar despite dwindling cane supply”

  1. Earl Grey says:

    THEY have been GROWING CANE SO LONG, it SHOULD BE A SCIENCE.

    RAISING STANDARDS to meet THE CORE SAMPLER CAN’T HURT EITHER…….

  2. amir castellanos says:

    If the marketing board wouldn’t sell the sugar to Guatemala as it arrives into San Ignacio,
    There would not be a scarcity of sugar. Truck loads of containers arriving in San Ignacio immediately
    gets sold to Guatemala.

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