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Jan 24, 2014

The Sugar Crop Season finally gets underway

Smoke billowed from the mills at the Tower Hill Factory. Long and at last, at ten this morning, delivery of sugar cane began in earnest. The 2014 season is delayed by eight weeks and the horrible road conditions are making a very bad situation worse for farmers who are unable to access their cane fields. First in line this morning, were farmers from the Corozal District. The delay is costing millions of dollars in losses. Duane Moody spoke to both the cane farmers and to the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and has the following report. 

 FOR VIDEO CLICK HERE: SUGAR CANE SEASON OPENS

Duane Moody, Reporting

After a two month delay due to the fallout between cane farmers and B.S.I., the long awaiting sugar cane crop season came to a start today. At exactly ten a.m. this morning, truckloads of the sugary stalks were finally delivered to the B.S.I. mills despite the weather and the deplorable sugar roads. Although farmers are energized and ready, the quota to be delivered to the mills today is likely not to be met.

 

Alfredo Ortega

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

“We decided that when we start, because of the weather that we have been experiencing four days ago; that we will be starting in a controlled system whereby we will continue with what we started about three years ago in delivery by appointment system and the Branch of San Narciso in the Corozal Division was the one to start crop today. I don’t expect that we will be meeting the quota for today because we started experiencing rain from early yesterday morning and there were certain farmers that were unable to burn cane so that they can start for today. And like I said, we are starting delivery by appointment so we have called the attention of the Orange Walk Division not to burn from Thursday, but to wait to burn until today, Friday morning because we will start deliveries way up until ten o’clock tonight. so based on that and with the rain that started to fall, many of us were unable to get that opportunity to burn and with the rain that we are experiencing from since yesterday evening way up to this point, rain is still continuing falling. So I don’t expect that we will be reaching the target for today.”

 

For the cane farmers, they were happy that they are finally able to harvest their cane so they can meet their obligations at financial institutions.

 

Said Patt

Said Patt, Cane Farmer

“I feel proud…thanks to god we could burn. They could fix a little bit the road, but thanks to god we are here.”

 

Duane Moody

“Tell us about how the rain conditions have been affecting your crop and being able to bring it out?”

 

Said Patt

“Well what can we do? We have to wait till conditions are good so that we could struggle and fight for our daily bread.”

 

Duane Moody

“It is the first day….there has been a lot of delays; it is the first day that you are able to bring. How much tonnes of cane do you have to brign to the mills?”

 

Said Patt

“Maybe about two thousand five hundred and this is more or less about fifteen tonnes.”

 

Luis Catzim, Cane Farmer

Luis Catzim

“Up to me, it is very good…at least we’ll be having some money for spend.”

 

Duane Moody

“Of course there has been a lot of delays, the rains have been a problem, the fact that you can’t burn your cane; how is it for you guys?”

 

Luis Catzim

“For me it is very good because at least we have work to do.”

 

Duane Moody

“How much tonnes of cane do you have to bring to the mills for the sugar cane season?”

 

Luis Catzim

“Approximately about three thousand tonnes and this itrip is approximately like fourteen tonnes.”

 

Duane Moody

“So lot more to go?”

 

Luis Catzim

“Lot more fi go.”

 

But the cane farmers are facing the harsh reality that because of the delay, a financial loss is inevitably. There are only an estimated one hundred and fifteen days left to deliver cane to the mills; and secondly, due to the deplorable road conditions and the incessant rains weather, the quota of cane—one point two million tons—will not be met. The B.S.C.F.A. is preparing for the worse.

 

Alfredo Ortega

“I believe that one of the important components for any cane farmer to deliver his product to the mill is the road and that is one of the biggest situation that we are facing. It is true that the weather plays an important role also, but if the roads were in a better condition—because it is not the first time that we are experiencing rain—true not to this amount that we are experiencing—but farmers have had that experience on how to deal with this situation when they are experience this type of weather. But having the road networks so they can travel; this is the situation presently that is holding back. That even if the farmer has the opportunity to harvest his cane; he is unable to travel on the road. And that is the biggest setback that we are facing at this time.  And I believe that if things remain the same as they are, that will be making the bad situation worse. We are advising the group leaders and we have mentioned to branch chairmen to advise their group leaders that they give an equal opportunity to all the members of their groups so that if time comes and we are unable to deliver a hundred percent of the cane we have that the eight won’t be felt only by a few farmers, but rather it can be extended to all farmers leaving at least ten-fifteen percent depending on the weather, on the extension of the weather—if we can experience sunny weather way up to the end of June, then that will give us an opportunity to deliver more cane to the mill. But as we have experienced from the past, we start to get rains from the end of May or sometimes very early in June. So we hope that we can reach way up to the middle of June.”

 

Ortega says that during the next twenty-four hours, the B.S.C.F.A. will continue to monitor the situation and amend delivery schedules. Duane Moody for News Five.

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