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Jul 2, 2014

The latest fair-trade audit of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association

Alfredo Ortega

The latest Fair-trade audit of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association turned up four major areas of non-compliance, three of them centred on the touchy topic of child labour. Auditors found that there are children working in cane-fields in the north, and that is a no-no where the certification body is concerned. It’s also something that is of great concern to the BSCFA. They now have to find a way to marry certification standards with the reality of hard times in the lives of many cane farmers, and the reality of children dropping out of school to help their families make ends meet.


Alfredo Ortega, Vice Chairman, Committee of Management, BSCFA

“That is a situation we are not happy with, because from the very early stages of fair-trade we know that child labour is not accepted under their standards. And we have been working very diligently with the farmers, but as you said life in Belize is very difficult and we have also mentioned to the auditors that there are some youngsters who go to the fields not under contract, but to help their parents to work. In this case they were interviewed and they said that they have been working for quite a while cutting cane on which we have been working very diligently for those things not to happen. But it has happened now and it has been discovered. So we have to take action into this situation because this is a major non-compliance. In Belize our law says that at the age of fourteen a person can have a social security and social security can be paid for him, so that means that person can start to work at the age of fourteen. But in the fair-trade standards it says that it should not be less than sixteen, and eighteen for those working with agro-chemicals. So those are the ranges that they have within the standards. So we would need to negotiate with the government to see how best we can fit in ourselves in regard to what they consider child labour. As you know in Belize there are many youngsters at the age of fourteen, fifteen that have already found their companions. Some of them have their wives and their ladies and they are bringing kids…so who will feed them if they don’t work. So those are things that we need to take into consideration and see how best we can negotiate with the government of Belize and also with the committees that represent fair-trade.”


Fair-trade auditors found eight areas of non-compliance – four major and four minor. The issue of child labour in the fields covers three major non-compliance areas.

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1 Response for “The latest fair-trade audit of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association”

  1. belizean@heart says:

    things really hard in Belize only dem corrupt govt’ and cronies di eat ham and cheese,the poor have to suffer the consecuenses,many children under age are dropping out of school and dem have fi help dem families to bring food to the table,dean barrow no care if u have fi eat,once his family eats ham and cheese dats enough for him and don’t believe his lies dat ” he is working for the pro-poor people”….thats only LIES and want to continue fool di people and marginalise the poor idiots that vote for him and his corrupt govt’ the people need jobs,which is scare under the UDP govt’ -only cronies and family members are having good jobs without qualifications,just because dem voted for gapi vega,dean burro,dem get rewarded for being loyal to their master-the puppet master-dean barrow,thats how the UDP govt’/dean barrow want to have the people ‘MARGINALIZED” so he can have dem eating in his hands with wa lee ramen,potted meat-cheap rass he give away and he say he is helping the pro-poor…mi r@$$ -thats our tax $$$$ is wasting to enrich himself and we the poor Belizeans continue to suffer and we get the crombs of our rich natural resources,we the get millions of $ from oil,from out taxes,Gob-selling our lands to foreigners-while we d fight fi get wa lee piece of land fi we…for our children and dem di tief fi we lands and sell it and we no get NOTHING ,once we as a country and people continue to tolerate dis bull$%#* we will never advance as a country we will remain backwards.” people OPEN ur eyes.

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