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Feb 8, 2011

Sugar industry at a standstill

There is late breaking news from the north; and it is not sweet for the six thousand cane farmers that depend on the sugar industry for their livelihood, even though sugar is selling at thirty-three US cents per pound on the world market and is one of the highest paid commodities. After a late start to the 2011 sugar crop, there will be another disruption in milling operations in the next few days. Milling didn’t start until mid December last year after government provided a ten million dollar bailout loan to the cash strapped BSI for the startup operations and third payments to farmers. Earlier today, an emergency meeting was held between the cane farmers and BSI factory personnel to announce a break in production for at least three weeks in the first instance. The delay is due to equipment failure at the BELCOGEN plant, which powers the BSI factory. Two of its turbines are malfunctioning and have to be taken down for urgent repairs. It puts at risk the one point one million tons of cane that are expected to be delivered for the production of one hundred and ten thousand tons of sugar.  Farmers are expecting to fetch forty-five dollars and three cents per ton of cane. Alfredo Ortega, Chairman of the Committee of Management for the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, explained the situation via phone today.

Via Phone: Alfredo Ortega, Chairman, Committee of Management, B.S.C.F.A.

Alfredo Ortega

“We just had a meeting with personnel from BSI and they announced to us that they are experiencing problems with the turbines from BELCOGEN. According to them, they had to close one last week and the other one that is surviving at this point in time is decreasing its power potential by about half a megawatt per day. If this trend continues they are saying that they will only be available up to Thursday. So they called an emergency meeting with us so that we can reach an agreement for a stoppage and according to them this stoppage will take around three weeks for them to get this problem sorted out.”

Delahnie Bain

“Have you all been given any idea why the equipment is giving trouble so early in the season?”

Via Phone: Alfredo Ortega

“Well according to the factory people, they didn’t anticipate that they would be experiencing this problem in this particular area of the turbine because yes, according to them, they have changed certain things like switch boxes and bearings and these stuff. But this is somewhat more internal to the machine, to the system. So what they announced before was that the equipment could have run for quite a number of years without experiencing this type of problem. But since they are testing this equipment now, they are identifying this type of problem.  They are seeing that by Thursday ten o’clock in the morning they should be receiving all canes of the farmers and they will be liquidated by Thursday night to go to a full closure by Friday morning.”

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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12 Responses for “Sugar industry at a standstill”

  1. GUINEA GRASS Observer says:

    how BSI was functioning before BELCOGEN ??? why they want more money with the sacrifice of the cane farmers…

  2. BZNinCALI says:

    So it is safe to assume that the turbines were not serviced prior to this season’s production to ensure that it was in good running order.

  3. javier solis says:

    BSI had three old boilers that were so antique they were actually falling apart. I worked there once.
    Now they have a set of spanking new boilers, but some of the operators may need training or experience in detecting these situations. I understand that the fans for the turbine are dirty, due it is said to unclean steam. The water that is used in these types of turbines must be brilliantly clean or the equipment will fail. The person in charged of water cleaning should be drilled about this. This is a big setback for the North.

  4. The People Had Enough says:

    Why can’t we do anything right in this country; damn am tired of Belize being a half @$$ country. We must get laughed at a lot by outsiders reading all the crap we do wrong and half @$$ in Belize, makes us look like a dumb nation this type of b.s.

  5. MyLegacyB4myPeople says:

    Its simple people, this is all because of how we handle things. Why should we spend all this money on the upkeep of these turbines? if we do, that will short change our wealth building legacy scheme, see we have people on our side in every area where money can be made and the idea is to retain as much of this wealth as we possibly can as in the case of Belcogen of course any sensible plant manager would have used the off season to make sure that these hard working equipment were dismantled and inspected and to make all the change that are necessary so that they can go through the season without this type of problems but that is not the way we do business our motto is if it’s not broken don’t fix it, fixing cost money remember My Legacy B 4 My People.

  6. Earl Grey says:


    and at a TIME WHEN WORLD SUGAR PRICES ARE UP…………..IT’S APPALLING….so say the least.



  7. Robert2 says:

    Every factory and manufacturer I have ever known has what is known as a shutdown. They usually take two weeks every year to do major maintenance. Their labor is not out of work because they are the people doing the maintenance. It’s a Win-Win for company and workers.

  8. CEO says:

    This kind of work is usually done during to time the factory is in scheduled shut down. These are problems that should have been detected over time and get repaired after the crop is over. Incompetence?

  9. CEO says:

    Major equipment like this have a usefull life (hours of opperation). When that time comes whether it is broken or not they should be replaced. They should never be used to the point of failur. Their profit margin remains and perhaps improved now that they are generating the power they need. Cane farmers are still languishing at the bottom!

  10. Disappointed says:

    Belize style….Why do it right when we can do it halfa_s….and everyone is fine with life that way in Belize………..

  11. Ramon Cervantes says:

    BSI is US$30M in the hole and Belcogen owes US$30M. Where did all that money go? With these sizes of debts we should not have these problems. It is high time that the we the farmers start agitating for FULL OWNERSHIP of our means of production…FULL OWNERSHIP of BSI or FULL OWNERSHIP of a new factory. We the farmers must own our destiny. For those that don’t know, it is Tate and Lyle that still owns the most productive sector of the sugar industry…they never lose. We the farmers have to own the raw material, the production process and the shipping and marketing in order that our farmers and industry may survive and succeed in this promising business.

  12. MAGABUAY says:

    when i become minister of agriculture ill put an end to this !@#$.. big up corozal town belize north.

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