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Dec 17, 2009

Delayed sugar cane season finally opened

Story PictureIt is one of Belize’s top exports and while production has declined, today’s reopening of the sugar cane season has brought relief to cane farmers in the sugar belt. That’s the good news, the bad is the delay has created a real possibility that payments may be late and not in time for Christmas. The late start was caused by work at the Belize Sugar Industries compound at Tower Hill in preparation for the Belize Cogeneration Project, which is scheduled to come on stream on January first. B.S.I. officials told News Five’s Marion Ali that they are doing their best to expedite payment.

Marion Ali, Reporting
The mill at the Belize Sugar Industries Limited started processing sugarcane late Wednesday night after a lengthy delay at Tower Hill. The imminent introduction of the Belize Cogeneration project prevented any kind of factory work for the past couple of weeks. But while the delay was necessary, Chief Executive Officer of the Belize Cane Farmers Association, David Madrid says it has created a real problem for the cane farmers at this time of year.

David Madrid, C.E.O., Cane Farmers’ Assn.
“This is detrimental to the farmers because they need the Christmas money. They have debts that they have to pay and usually when you budget yourself like they do in a seasonal activity, they were depending on the money to start coming in mid December.”

The late start was compounded by heavy rains that have inundated cane fields. But there is hope, according to Factory Manager of B.S.I., John Gillett.

John Gillett, Factory Mgr., B.S.I.
“We started to receive cane yesterday. We received just over nine hundred tons of cane and depends on what the farmers deliver, they will be paid. So some revenue will be coming in before Christmas.”

With the financial constraints being imposed by the European Union on developing countries like Belize, coupled with a decrease in local yield, the sugar industry has endured its share of challenges in recent years. But Gillett says the horizon looks promising.

John Gillett
“What we need to do at this time is get up the production so as to offset any reduction in revenue, but unless we have the cane available. This year we expect to be milling maybe about one point one million tons of cane and we would hope that the production would be around a hundred and eighteen, hundred and twenty thousand tons of sugar.”

Marion Ali
“What are you using now as an alternative to the core sampler?”

John Gillett
“As far as I know, nothing. There should have been a quality improvement program. The farmers should have taken that on. I have not seen any replacement for that yet.”

That replacement is expected to take place in the coming year. Sugar production was down in 2009 but just in case you were wondering, Gillett assures that there will be sufficient supply of sugar for Christmas. Reporting for News Five, Marion Ali.

In the most productive year, a hundred and twenty-three thousand tons of sugar was produced in 2001. But this year the crop only yielded ninety-two thousand tons. Belize earned just over a hundred million dollars in revenues from sugar cane exportation.


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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