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Apr 25, 2018

B.S.I. Tests Sugar Cane Quality

The third payment for sugar is looking lower than anticipated, according to industry sources. But today millers up north are finding ways to boost efficiency. American Sugar Refinery and the Belize Sugar Industries Limited, in collaboration with the Sugar Cane Production Committee and participating farmers hosted the media today to a Pre-Harvest Cane Quality Testing Programme in Orange Walk District. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

B.S.I. has teamed up with the Sugar Cane Production Committee and several test groups of farmers, eighteen to be exact, in the first of a three-year project to improve the quality of cane delivered to the mills. This is in an effort to enhance the efficiency of the industry. The Pre-Harvest Sugar Cane Quality Testing programme is funded by Hershey for the 2017-2018 crop season and provides farmers with free access to technical assistance to field cane quality data. Those statistics are in turn used to better structure their harvesting plans. It is timely because March and April are the months where deliveries to the mills are fast and furious.


Jose Luis Cowo

Jose Luis Cowo, Cane Farmer, Progressive Sugar Cane Producers Association

“We do sampling every time for the maturity of the cane and we need to provide quality cane at the factory that is why we do the test.”



“Have you seen a difference in the quality of cane you are delivering before you enter the program?”


Jose Luis Cowo

“Yes, because we need to understand the maturity of the cane determines the price of it also.”



“Have you seen your profit margins increase since entering?”


Jose Luis Cowo



The concept is that cane quality brought to the mills, despite whether it is early, middle or late varieties, are at its maximum with key quality indicators such as brix, pol and purity above the prescribed level for the millers. The process to test the quality of the cane starts in the fields.


Russell Navarro

Russell Navarro, Field Officer, Cane Farmers Relation

“We have a system that has mapped almost all the cane parcels in the sugar industry. For example we have this field and this field has a SIMIS ID 029-0485; that is how we identify this parcel. It got the acreage, the name of the farmer, when it was planted, the variety and the last date harvested; that is the information we have. Once we have the parcel number, we enter the field at the mid section and we enter in and the person that does the cutting enters the field and takes out the sample. We need to cut the cane as low as possible. Why? Because at the bottom of the cane is where the sugar is concentrated so we need to cut the cane as low as possible to the ground and to do a proper topping.”


After an initial on the ground test, the sample cane is taken through the NIR Equipment, purchased by funding from the European Union, to map the quality of the sugar concentration. This equipment was originally purchased in 2013 and it was part of a regional project in the Caribbean. This information is then processed and issued to farmers.


Adrian Zetina

Adrian Zetina, Research & Development Chief, B.S.I.

“The absorbance spectrum, the curves is based on the sucrose content that the cane has. So if it has a higher sucrose content then the absorbance spectra that you saw; the peaks will be larger. Now that gives us a couple parameters: brix which is the total dissolved solids. This includes sugar, which is the majority component of the brix; it also includes salts, proteins and whatever of these solids that we have in the juice. Pol is exclusively the sucrose that is in the juice. So using these two parameters—you have pol and you divide by brix and that will give us the purity.”


As a standard, the industry accepts an eighty-one percent purity at the mills; if it falls below that, it is not accepted. Aside from the purity of the farms, the data also provides the moisture/fiber content. The lower the moisture, the riper the cane is; this is ideal at sixty-eight to sixty-nine percent with moisture being inversely related to fiber.


Olivia Avilez

Olivia Avilez, Cane Farmers Relations, B.S.I.

“The project really is looking at the expression of the sugar cane biologically. Sugar cane is a plant and it’s a grass at that but it concentrates and mix sugar—it produces sugar within its biological stocks and so as a species that is what we want to see as the expression of that pol content or sugar content at what periods of time and based on their variety. Not all sugar cane matures and has the amount of sugar at the same time. So what our program does is to really go out and investigate this by using different tools, using laboratory field tools, so that we can then assist farmers with a report basically. It’s kind of like the results of a blood test, you can say.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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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