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Jul 15, 2019

Sugar Cane Crop Closes with Record Breaking Numbers

Today was a big day for the northern districts, as the 2018-2019 sugar crop closed off at A.S.R/B.S.I.  It ended on a positive note for the sugar industry with record breaking numbers for sugar cane milled and sugar extracted.  There are, however, some farmers who were not able to deliver all their cane.  But the millers report that the number is likely to be just a handful.  Today, Olivia Avilez of the Belize Sugar Industries Limited says that this is the highest sugar production on record.  Reporter Andrea Polanco has more in the following story.


Olivia Carballo Avilez, Cane Farmers Relations Manager, Belize Sugar Industries Limited

“Today, at five-fifty-five a.m. today we ended the 2018-2019 sugar cane crop season.”


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

…and that last delivery for the 2018-2019 sugar cane crop season closed this morning with big numbers.  It out performed last year and goes down as one of the best years for cane received at the mill.


Olivia Carballo Avilez

Olivia Carballo Avilez

“We ended very positively with record breaking numbers. At this time we have cane supply of over one point three-one-seven million tons of cane, so we met our target of over one point three and more. The record before that was one point three-one-four million tons so that means about four thousand tons of cane more than that record.  We are very surprised at the cane supply and I think even the farmers are. The first estimates that we expected were around one point two-four-six or one point two-eight million tons of cane, but we are very happy that there was more.”


The exceptional sugar cane deliveries also helped to boost this year’s sugar production –  that number is up by over ten thousand tons more sugar produced. It’s another big record, although final numbers are not yet in. Avilez says quality sugar cane and the weather contributed to this boost in sugar milled.


Olivia Carballo Avilez

“We were able to extract more sugar out of the cane that we got, at around one hundred and fifty-five tons of sugar and more. We are still finishing the sugar processing at this time. The record before that was one hundred and forty-four thousand in 2017. So, that is actually more than eleven thousand tons of sugar more than our record. We are very happy and we congratulate the farmers as well for bringing in very good quality cane.”


But while this is all good news for the ASR/BSI, there are a few farmers who didn’t get to deliver all their canes this year. A survey will follow to determine what percentage of canes is still in the fields.


Olivia Carballo Avilez

“We do have some reports from farmers already that weren’t able to completely harvest; some in the Yo Creek area and a bit in the San Lazaro area. San Estevan area was able to finish as well but we will make an assessment of that. We don’t think it is a great number and a lot of the issues are centered on not being able to have enough cutters or loading trucks. That is what some people are reporting.”


The A.S.R./B.S.I. is also making a big change in the type of sugar they produce. The transition is from a mostly fully raw milled sugar to a direct food consumption sugar – or a food grade sugar.


Olivia Carballo Avilez

“So, the food grade sugars that we currently have are the plantation white sugars that we get in the stores. If you notice, it is a lot finer; a lot whiter than several years in the past. We still have the local brown that is food grade. We have the EU Demerara Sugar which is exported to the EU and then the EU for CARICOM. We have one sugar that we export to Canada that is called confectionary that has specific sizes and crystal coloring. So, those are the five that we are currently producing and those are important because they are higher value. The sugar prices of raw are not as good as we were used to in the preferential market before 2017 and so we are having to make those changes.”


Avilez says that the B.S.I. can do a lot more in terms of planning, projection and analysis of a season – but many farmers are not using the data input system.


Olivia Carballo Avilez

“We have the sugar industry management information but not all the farmers are using it. If we would have that information that the farmers are using the system – a GIS system – trying to figure out how much cane is supplied per acre then we would be able to better plan a crop. Better plan the star and the stop, so that is important.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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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