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Oct 31, 2011

Factory refuses Citrus Growers

Down south, there are new problems for citrus farmers. They are yet to recover from the devastation of the last hurricane that swept through the area in October 2010, which has resulted in an early crop. The situation has the Citrus Growers Association racing around the clock, hoping to get government to intervene with the Citrus Products of Belize for early deliveries. Last week, CPBL informed the CGA that the factory will start to accept crops on Wednesday; however, it will only be receiving grapefruits. Oranges will not be accepted until the ninth or sixteenth of November which means that with the crop already ready for harvesting, the potential for losses are real when prices are high. News Five spoke to Henry Anderson, C.E.O. of the CGA, who says that the industry could be set back tremendously.

Via Phone: Henry Anderson, C.E.O, CGA

Henry Anderson

“We responded to CPBL saying fine, we have no objections to the factory opening on second of November, normally it opens in October but that we were requesting that they take in oranges as well because growers are losing what you’d call ‘early variety of oranges.’ The matter went to the press since last week Thursday I believe because growers called in with respect to this issue because they have fruits that are falling. Now orange is at thirteen fifty-five there-about; so if you’re losing five thousand box of oranges that’s close to a hundred thousand dollars some people are looking at losing if you’re waiting until the ninth or the sixteenth. When we contacted CPBL, we wrote to them on that issue, they responded saying they’re doing it is for quality reasons because the orange is not the quality they want. The issue with that is that that’s not a sound rationale at this time of the year. For the past fifty years the factories have been processing the early oranges in October, so to be in the first weeks, or heading towards the first weeks of November, or to wait until the ninth or the sixteenth of November to do so simply doesn’t make sense, especially when we are seeing the fruits falling off the tree due to over maturity.”

Andrea Polanco

“So Mr. Anderson, where do the growers go from here? Because like you said, the losses are or will be very big for several of the citrus growers?”

Via Phone: Henry Anderson

“Yeah well, what we have done, we were in a meeting, the chairman of the CGA and I with the Honorable Minister of Agriculture, CEO of Agriculture who is also the Chairman of the Citrus Control Board and the Chief Agricultural Officer, discussing this issue. Cabinet meets tomorrow so we are trying to maybe get a little word head wise there and for the Citrus Control Board to look at it. Basically we’re hoping that the Board of CPBL acts on this issue but it would not be the first time that the board does not due to the actions primarily of the foreign directors, the Banks Holdings people. We have the citrus control board and the government who are the ultimate regulators, so perhaps they could weigh in as well nuh.”

Andrea Polanco

“So, Mr. Anderson, to adequately sum up the effect or the loss, has the CGA done any preliminary assessment of the projected losses for the citrus growers?”

Via Phone: Henry Anderson

“We are right now taking some pictures of fruits under the trees and things like that to get that out tomorrow.  For the growers who they have spoken to at that time, the loss would’ve been since the oranges would’ve been ready, would’ve been ready would’ve been in the area of ten thousand boxes, that by thirteen dollars per box, that would be about a hundred and thirty thousand dollars thereabouts nuh.”

Andrea Polanco

“What’s the outlook like for this year’s citrus season?”

Via Phone: Henry Anderson

“Okay, I just want to make a point nuh, if factory waits until the ninth or sixteenth of November the losses will be three or four times that. And with the weather changing and little cold coming in you could have it even more. You can easily look at a loss of about fifty-sixty thousand box of fruit and then you’re getting up there to nearly a million dollars worth of damage there yuh nuh. In terms of the outlook, the prices for are very in the world market. CGA has been working on the price farmers side with CPBL to ensure that they have been doing some more competitive selling. They should provide a marketing plan that’s a binding arbitration issue. They have not done so but they have until Wednesday. But the outlook should start around thirteen dollars per box of oranges, we did have a meeting on Friday night where they suggested about seven-thirty-nine per box of grapefruits. But they were using two thousand one hundred gallons per metric tons. We agreed that the real market figure is around two thousand three hundred. So that should take the price to around seven dollars and sixty-cents for growers. The outlook for the international market; the prices should hold so the growers should get that or better as we go along. Canada is bracing for one of the coldest winter on record we understand so if that trickles down into Florida over the winter months, then the prices could be much higher.”

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