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Oct 20, 2021

Minister of Agriculture Weighs in on Cane Farmers and ASR/BSI Impasse

The Minister of Agriculture has the hard task of bringing the Belize Sugar Industry and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association together to strike a compromise over their commercial agreement. With less than ten weeks left before the opening of the sugar crop, the association that produces just over fifty percent of the sugar cane ASR/BSI mills is not signing onto the commercial agreement as it stands. They want the agreement revised and updated through negotiations. But, what the association is asking does not sit well with the mill.  ASR/BSI is asking BSCFA to provide a written rationale for their request, before discussions continue. Today we spoke to Minister of Agriculture Abelardo Mai, about the complexity of the issue and whether or not it can be resolved before the start of the sugar cane crop harvesting.


Abelardo Mai

Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture

“There are four associations; the BSCFA is the largest association with the largest amount of sugar cane and the largest amount of farmers. Then you have the Progressive Sugar Cane Association. That is the one that broke away when the then PM changed the law. There is another association called the Corozal Producers Association and another called Northern. While BSCFA is I want to renegotiate the commercial agreement, and these are the things I want amended in there. BSI is saying I don’t want to amend, you are disappointing me by saying what you want to amend. But, I want to add other things to the commercial agreement in the appendix, the addendum. The BSCFA Association will meet with the Prime Minister this week to express their views. The Prime Minster has met with ASR. I have met with ASR. I met with the cane farmers and asked that they come to a compromise. The commercial agreement is an agreement between the farmers and BSI/ASR. We are there to mediate and ensure that things are fair.”


Paul Lopez

“What is the likelihood of a resolution being reached on this matter?”


Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture

“There are strong things I believe we can reach compromise at. But, playing hard ball doesn’t help anybody. And negotiations mean you will have to give up something. You can’t get all. BSCFA has been asking BSI to meet and they have refused. Now, this is not how negotiation goes. They are saying send me a rationale. Let’s meet, sit down and meet. Lets dialogue that is how you negotiate. But by you not wanting to meet and not explicitly saying so, but saying oh I need you to show me a rationale. That is not

the way to go.”

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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