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Nov 25, 2013

Cane Farmers gather for a general meeting

There are five thousand three hundred registered cane-farmers in northern Belize. They are divided into eighteen branches which all operate under the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association. On Sunday, a significant portion of those farmers were at the Escuela Secundaria Tecnica Mexico auditorium in San Roman for a general meeting. On the agenda were financial and status reports from the branches, but the most important item for discussion was the ongoing bagasse impasse. Cane-farmers have demanded a share of the profits reaped by BELCOGEN from the sale of bagasse. B.S.I. has not encouraged those discussions. So the B.S.C.F.A. has stated that no cane will be delivered for milling until an agreement on the profit sharing from bagasse is reached. On Sunday the association sought a mandate and support from its general assembly on the non-delivery of cane. Mike Rudon was in San Roman and has the story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

There were almost fifteen hundred cane-farmers seated in the auditorium, and many more standing around. They were all present to deal with an important matter – that of a share in the profits made by Belcogen on the sale of energy from bagasse. The morning was spent on more mundane and routine cane-farmer matters, and at around one-fifteen in the afternoon, the bagasse issue took center stage. The discussion was opened by BSCFA C.E.O. Oscar Alonzo, and in short order Committee of Management Vice-Chairman Alfredo Ortega rallied the cane-farmers, seeking unanimous support from them.


Alfredo Ortega, Vice-Chairman, Committee of Management, BSCFA

Alfredo Ortega

“We can have the support of the entire country of Belize, but if we do not show that we are serious about this issue, that we are really fighting to have benefits for our cane, then everything will come to an end. It does not matter who comes to help us, we are the only ones responsible. And once again, cane farmers, I’m asking for 100% support, nothing less than 100%. Because if it is less than 100%, then the enthusiasm will be demoralized. But if there is 100% support, each morning that I wake up and thank God for a new day, I will be filled with energy to continue fighting this battle. And cane farmers, as I mentioned before, we will always continue to be dignified cane farmers and always united; because if we are not united, then we will only be heading toward slavery.”


Both the Orange Walk and Corozal divisions have already signed onto a resolution to not deliver cane until an agreement is reached, whenever that might be. But for the decision to stand, all cane-farmers would need to stand firm in support of it. And so, the motion was read.


Genaro Garcia, Canefarmer

“Now therefore be it resolved that the general membership of the BSCFA being duly confirmed to be a legal constituted quorum to be present and voting today, does hereby request that this meeting be held today on the twenty-fourth November 2013 at Escuela Secundaria Tecnica Mexico accepts and votes in favour to ratify the motions passed by the above divisions held on the second and tenth November, 2013.”


Committee of Management Leonardo Cano sought the mandate from the general assembly.


Leonardo Cano, Chairman, Committee of Management, BSCFA

“Let us all stand, ladies and gentlemen. Everyone on your feet…. Thank you. You can be seated.”


The support was immediate and unanimous. No sugar cane will be delivered to BSI until an agreement on profit sharing is reached. So what happens next? According to Ortega the DPM has promised a meeting with BSI and they will wait a week for that to happen. If it doesn’t, then they will take further action.


Alfredo Ortega

“I think that they have shouted in unity that they are committed not to deliver any cane until we finalize this negotiation from BSI so the farmers are very serious with what they have done today, and it is on our shoulders as their leaders to move on with what they have put upon us…to move forward. Hereafter we have the approval now of them to do what we have to do, and if we cannot do anything then we’ll come back to them again and see what the further move we’ll be doing.”


Even though the support is overwhelming, there is always the possibility that small pockets of cane-farmers will still try to deliver cane to BSI. According to Ortega, that action would have dire financial consequences.


Alfredo Ortega

“I think you have heard the sentiment of the farmers today, and they have said very clearly that if there are farmers that want to deliver those farmers will be penalized in one way or another.”



“Penalized in what way you mean?”


Alfredo Ortega

“Well they won’t be getting any benefit once we get the benefits from bagasse they won’t be able to get the benefits, and also farmers have said that those farmers that want to deliver within that period of time will be placed on the very end of the season to deliver the rest of their cane.”


Cane-farmers who attended the meeting were vocal and left little doubt that they are prepared to take this action as far as it needs to go. Mike Rudon for News Five.


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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7 Responses for “Cane Farmers gather for a general meeting”

  1. Rod says:

    Unu greed will destroy unu stop cry and just do unu jobs don’t be cry babies and stop be greedy see what’s happening to the udp gov because of greed and corruption and because they have judas as a leader who will sell out the country for thirty pieces of silver .

  2. Dr. Margaret Noguera, MD says:

    I am a second generation sugar cane grower and business person. From a well researched and informed position, I hereby state that the problem of the Sugar Industry of Belize is not payment for bagasse. The Industry needs to be opened for sensible Investment and the removal of monopolistic controls be it through the relationship with BSI/ASR and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and the way products are classified and sold. Our Industry is too old to not be handled in a more business like fashion. Sugar Cane and its Derivatives are serious economic drivers for any economy. Our mismanagement can lead to us missing the excellent opportunities as well as economic benefits from cane …not just bagasse!

  3. Belizean Pride says:

    Hope Rod is a cane farmer or a cane farmer son who is happy with his work as a cane farmer cause to me you ain’t nothing but a sour soul who rants on every thing, I guess you a have screwed up life bro. I propose to you go on a week of hard labour like the cane farmers do and see how you gonna make it. This are the same people that makes you enjoy that sugar that you consume every single day. So bring up more sensible argument tot he table than the same old bull crop of political thing. this is a national problem which includes pup cane farmers as well as the udp and those that are none link to any party.

  4. Pelican says:

    Go ahead destroy the Economy up north then come lean on the rest of the country!

  5. ceo says:

    I guess when you are rich and mighty you are entitled to more that the little farmers. Change only comes with force, just stand together and support each other through the hard times until they come to their sences and pay you guys what you deserve.

  6. Rod says:

    You are one dumb ignoramus belizean pride .

  7. mans says:

    I am impressed with all the full support that the Cane Farmers are giving to its Association. Its impressive… I was a cane cutter and was once a cane farmer.. my respect to them… i would not simply continue doing so much hard work… they deserved all the respect from the Belizean Population. I earn a descent salary now… I was able to do it because of the Cane Farming. I support all of their request and initiative. MAKE NO Man who do not understand and have not suffer to dismantle you cane farmers. UNITE and Continue the fight. GOD will protect you all as he did with me.

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