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Apr 19, 2023

Did A.S.R./B.S.I. Not Pay B.S.C.F.A. for Fairtrade Premium?

Earlier today, News Five caught up with Minister of Agriculture Jose Abelardo Mai in Bomba Village and we asked for an update on the situation between Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and American Sugar Refinery/Belize Sugar Industry.  As we’ve been reporting, the parties have been at odds over an unresolved commercial agreement and today, News Five confirmed that the millers may have made the situation worse. Reports are that a representative from Fairtrade is in Belize and met with the association to reveal that the quota of forty thousand tons of sugar from Belize was purchased by Fairtrade for last year’s crop and this year at premium price. But it would appear that of the four cane farmers association in the north, B.S.C.F.A. did not get its share of the proceeds.


Jose Abelardo Mai

Jose Abelardo Mai, Ministry of Agriculture

“From the information we’ve been gathering also and from the discussions, it is confirmed that forty thousand tons of sugar was sold, this is from the 2022 crop, was sold with a Fairtrade premium. B.S.C.F.A. did not receive any Fairtrade premium for that year. This year, I think that they have sold also a portion of the sugar with the Fairtrade premium, but again the B.S.C.F.A. has not received their share of the pie. The reasons that they have written to the B.S.C.F.A. was one that they are not sharing similar views; that’s one of the excuses. Two, that there has to be greater collaboration between the BSCFA and B.S.I./A.S.R.. But the question being asked by the farmers is if you sold my sugar and received a premium, then why am I not being paid for it? Or why is it that that premium was paid out to a different association? So the B.S.C.F.A. is making those bold questions, they have not gotten the right answers, they believe, and so this matter is ongoing.  And so the farmers – again we are at a very difficult point right now because at the moment, there is no law to say, okay Tate and Lyle, you sold this sugar, you sold forty thousand tons and it is important to understand that within that forty thousand tons, there is a portion of that sugar which belongs to B.S.C.F.A., you have collected the premiums, but you have not paid them.  And you have said to them that you have made payments, you have purchased sugar, but they will not receive their premiums. Selling your sugar at Fairtrade premium is not something that does not cost the farmer. For any association to have Fairtrade certification, there is a cost. There are many things that you have to do and many things that you have to comply with. So it is not that I am giving you this Fairtrade money because you are pretty or I like you or yo lovely. It is being given because they had to meet the Fairtrade certification and that cost because of time and resources. And so it is not something free. So now I am certified, I worked for it, I invested my money in certification, now you sold my sugar as the farmers say and you have not paid me my premium. And this is where the bone of contention is at this time.”

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