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May 13, 2011

Is sugar scarce?

There is a reported shortage of locally produced sugar. The Belize Sugar Industries is producing twelve thousand tons for local consumption, that’s one thousand tons more than it did last crop.  The shortage is not caused because the nation’s appetite for sugar has increased; it’s because the primary concession holders are not supplying the local retailers and are smuggling it across the Guatemala and Mexico borders where sugar fetches up to four times the value. The local prices range from forty seven dollars per a hundred pound bag at the Belize Marketing and Development Corporation and up to fifty-four dollars from other suppliers. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The current sugar crop season, since it began on December fifteenth last year, has been plagued with numerous setbacks.  Undoubtedly, the industry has been facing serious financial difficulties.  The issues range from a much needed bailout last December to the shutting down of the factory at Tower Hill in the wake of mechanical failures in mid-February.  Despite the resumption of operations recently there is still another problem looming.  Over the past two weeks there has been a dearth in sugar being made available to the local market.  For Stephen Okeke, proprietor of Joy Ice Cream & Juices, the scarcity has meant a complete halt in business.

Stephen Okeke

Stephen Okeke, Proprietor, Joy Ice Cream & Juices

“Its affecting us tremendously because when we go to the shops the sugar is rationed.  We need at least three hundred pounds a day to operate our business because we have to wash the sugar, we have to prepare it properly [and] filter it so as to meet some of the health requirements of some of our customers.”

Joy Ice Cream & Juices is a recently established small enterprise; however, the increasing demand for natural juices has forced Okeke to expand his staff as well as his stock in order to meet consumer requirements.  At Joy’s the commodity is used as an additive.

Stephen Okeke

“We use the sugar as preservative for the juices.  All the juices are made from natural fruits so if you dont use the sugar the way we use it [then] within three hours the juices crack and without the sugar we have no business.  Like today we have stopped operation completely and if this thing continues for the next one week [then] were out of business.  Out of business means ten people we employ directly [are] out of jobs.  We dont want to lose our jobs because of sugar.”

According to Okeke the problem has a lot to do with the exportation of sugar to Guatemala where it is sold at a considerably higher price.

Stephen Okeke

“We manufacture sugar right [here] in Belize just across the neighborhood right in Orange Walk here.  Give us some sugar.  We’ve tried to contact B.S.I., B.S.I. says it’s the distributors who are sending the sugar to Guatemala because they sell it for six times the local price.  I have no problem with their kind of business but give us some sugar.  I went to the Marketing Board yesterday and the Marketing Board says B.S.I. has cut their quota tremendously.  They get maybe less than a quarter of what they should be getting.  In fact, yesterday they got only twenty-five bags.  So when their supermarket customers come they can only give one person a sack or two and they don’t know, B.S.I. says they don’t know when they will get again.”

The uncertainty of when the next supply of sugar will be delivered to the Marketing Board has raised concerns among wholesale consumers.  To make matters worse the existing quantity is being controlled.

Stephen Okeke

“You cant tell me that in Belize we are rationing sugar one pound for each person.  And the only way we have been operating so far at a tremendous loss is we send one of our workers to go buy sugar, one five pounds and the next one to go buy the next five pounds.  No man! You dont do that.  We are trying to create jobs.  Why should we sit back and the let the ones we have created already get out of our hands?  Give us some sugar.  This problem can be solved within one hour [just] pick up the phone and call these guys [and] get them to do their jobs.  Give us some sugar man.  We cant be rationing sugar in Belize.  There is no war here [and] were not in any kind of combat.  [Just] give us some sugar.”

The problem, says Okeke, is that a blame game is being played amongst the parties involved.  He believes that the issue can be resolved with a simple phone call from the Prime Minister.

Stephen Okeke

“So this guy is accusing B.S.I., B.S.I. is accusing this other guy.  Its simple, somebody go to BSI and see their delivery inventory and see how much theyre really delivering and go to these guys and see how much theyre receiving.  That will tell us who is doing what.  But that is not what our concern is.  Give us some sugar to do our business.  And Im calling on the Prime Minister, I dont call on the Prime Minister for frivolous things [but] this is a national crisis.  Its a sugar crisis.  Pick up the phone and call the guy in charge of the sugar industry [and ask him] What are you doing? Where is te sugar going?

News Five attempted to reach Roque Mai, the managing director of the Belize Marketing & Development Corporation, for comment earlier but we were told that he was out office. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

We’ll have more on this story next week.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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9 Responses for “Is sugar scarce?”

  1. Earl Grey says:

    A good EXAMPLE OF INCOMPETENCE AND MISMANAGEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. mylegacyb4mypeople says:

    If I was to put some money on it I would say that the problem is with the marketing board apparently Roque Mai is not doing his job he is apparently getting paid under the table for what he is doing just like in the situation with the onions rotting in the field, I would say get him out of there maybe he don’t know that he can be replaced, wonder what he will say when he is at home sitting down without a job knowing that his corruption caused it, Fire Roque Mai fire him now. Remember, My Legacy B 4 My People.

  3. RedBwai says:

    You mean to tell me that for Belize to be an sugar producing country, we cant even supply our local market with enough locally produced sugar? What is becoming of our country? first it was our oil now our sugar…whats next???? This sugar shortage is being caused by a handful of greedy individuals….BSI has the authority to limit how much sugar it sells to each of its distributors. Sounds like some illegal exportation of sugar is occuring and no one seems to know how and who is doing it….this very sad..

  4. MACAL RIVERA says:

    STOP LISTEN TO THIS CRAZY MAN OKEKE OK, HE JUST WANT TO MAKE NEWS, STUPID JACK ASS

  5. Drama says:

    I TOLD YOU SO THAT B.S.I TIME LIMIT OF REALLY SHOWING WHERE THEY WERE WAS 3 TO 5 YEARS AND I SAID THIS NOT EVEN 3 MONTHS AGO. PEOPLE PREPARE YOURSELVES FOR BELIZE’S FIRST EVER CILIVIAN WAR IT WILL START EITHER IN THE CITY OR ORANGE WALK TOWN SAVE WHATEVER MONEY YOU CAN STAST IT ASIDE SO THAT WAY WHENEVER THIS WAR BREAKS OUT YOU CAN LEAVE THE COUNTRY THERE WILL BE CHAOS,SHOOTINGS,KILLINGS,ROBBERIES THE POLICE WILL BE OUT IN FULL FORCE THAT IS WHY THE PRIME MINISTER IS PROPOSING PASSING THE DEATH PENALTY ADD ONE AND ONE AND WHAT DO YOU GET?

  6. Cnn Correspondent says:

    HERE AT CNN WE NEED YOUR HELP WE ARE LOOKING FOR PERSONS WHO CAN POST THE COMMUNITY FEEDBACK OF THIS STORY OF SUGAR GETTING SCARCE IN THE COUNTRY OF BELIZE. YOU CAN POST YOUR FEEDBACK ON YOU TUBE ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS WALK AROUND WITH YOUR IPHONE AND ASK STOREOWNERS,BUISNESSES,AND EVEN YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ON WHAT IS THEIR TAKE ON THIS SITUATION. ONCE A COUPLE OF STORIES ARE AIRED AND A FEEDBACK IS GIVEN WE WILL IMMEDIATELY WITHIN A MOMENTS BREATH WILL SEND A CORRESPONDENT AND WE WILL BE INTERVIEWING PEOPLE OF THE COUNTRY OF BELIZE BUT WE NEED SURETY THAT THIS IS HAPPENING FOR THIS CAN BE A CATASTROPHE FOR THE JEWEL OF YOURS I AM BROWSING YOU TUBE FOR NEW STORIES FROM BELIZE THANK YOU.

  7. Nutritionist says:

    @Stephen Okeke – If you didn’t make your juices SO SWEET, you probably wouldn’t need that much sugar.

  8. I Have Awaken says:

    I don’t think any correspondent of CNN will be typing in all caps; he/she would know that this is improper forum etiquette.

    If you are, then please ask CNN to send a correspondent with a better grasp on the English language. No offense.

  9. LARGE AND SEXY says:

    NO WONDER MY SUGAR USE TO ALWAYS GO HIGH AFTER I DRINK OKEKE JUICE, SIMPLETON OKEKE, WHY ADD SUGAR TO FRESH JUICE BWAY, YOU WILL NEVER SEE ME AGAIN BUYING FROM YOU. SUCKER!!! YOU USE TO ALWAYS ASSURED ME ITS FRESH JUICE NO SUGAR, NOW WITH YOUR OWN MOUTH YOU CONFESS YOUR LIE, YOU IDIOT.

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