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Jun 10, 2008

Farmers want piece of Belcogen pie

A group of cane farmers, recently returned from a regional conference in Barbados, say that caneros should receive a piece of the action when the sugar company begins to sell electricity made from bagasse. According to a release from the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, when they and their Jamaican counterparts were invited to attend a meeting of the board directors of the Sugar Association of the Caribbean, the refining group agreed that the principal of equity should guide the payment system for a multi-product industry. That means more money per ton of cane once the Belcogen project kicks in during 2009. And while that’s what the farmers are saying, that has never been the understanding of Belize Sugar Industries, which has maintained from the outset that returns are derived from investment—which B.S.I. has made and farmers have not.

And while that controversy is reserved for the future, the present state of the industry is pretty dismal. B.S.I. estimates that this year’s projected production of eighty-three thousand tons, compared to last year’s ninety-seven thousand, will be the lowest in recent memory. The cane to sugar ratio is also the poorest ever and growing worse due to flooding caused by Tropical Storm Arthur. On the bright side, farmers will benefit from new fair trade status in Europe as well as the high value of the Euro as the vast majority of Belize’s sugar production is going to Europe.

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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