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Jan 8, 2014

Millions of dollars reported in losses in delayed crop

Alfredo Ortega

This is the first time in Belize’s history that the sugar cane crop season has been so delayed. Generally it kicks off in the middle of November. Mother Nature has played a role in the delay, with incessant rains negatively impacting cane quality and destroying roads through which farmers access their fields and the factory. In any industry, delays translate to monetary losses for all stakeholders, and this one is no exception. Both the farmers and the factory are paying a heavy toll in the region of ten million dollars, and with every day that passes, the figure increases. According to Alfredo Ortega, BSCFA will be calling a general meeting with cane-farmers on Sunday to determine if the revised agreement with B.S.I. is acceptable to begin the crop season.


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

“As you know, we sat with B.S.I. personnel today and we presented to them a proposal on our side and they will be looking up on it. They will send us a response either by tomorrow evening or early Friday morning which will be presented to cane farmers on Sunday in a special general meeting that we will be calling for Sunday with the cane farmers.”



“Okay, can you give us the details of that proposal?”


Alfredo Ortega

“Okay what we are looking for is in regards to what we have been asking: the payment for bagasse and also putting in part what they have presented for us as to when they would want us to start the crop without interruption. Also we have placed on them that we are asking in this interim that we maintain the memorandum of understanding that we have in the past agreement and also that each side could move forward without prejudice.”



“Has it been clarified the part where bagasse will be paid out? Is there a compromise from B.S.I. saying that yes they are going to pay the cane farmers for bagasse?”


Alfredo Ortega

“Well in certain view yes, but they will be clarifying that with the letter which we have sent to them which they have taken on today and they will be presenting to the ASR group which they will be sending us tomorrow.”


Isani Cayetano

“You are looking at an estimated time of let’s say a week or so to begin the sugar cane crop season for this year. Are you guys prepared to go forward in terms of the road condition and other obstacles that might stand in the way of production?”


Alfredo Ortega

“Well that will depend on the meeting that we will be holding on Sunday with the farmers and also it will depend on weather conditions and the work being done of the sugar roads. Because at this time, very little work has been done on those sugar roads and as you know, almost ninety-nine percent of our sugar roads are in bad state.”



“When it comes to the meeting on Sunday, do you expect the cane farmers to agree totally to what you are proposing? Is there something that you guys are unanimously supporting; the proposals going to B.S.I.?”


Alfredo Ortega

“Well in certain way, yes Arturo, because as you know time is going by and the farmers are feeling the pinch—not only the farmers, but Belize at large are feeling right now the situation in crops not starting. It is true that it’s not only because of this situation that we have with B.S.I. that this crop has not started. But the situation with the weather has also kept us back from not going forward. But I believe that we have moved a long way from where we were in September when we came to this impasse. I think that things have changed up to this point. I think that B.S.I. has already changed their position from where they were before and I think that at least there is something where we can work upon and look forward to start a crop.”



“I understand that you guys were not able to sign an MOU because the government has not been willing to participate in the signing of this MOU. Has this affected in the negotiations?”


Alfredo Ortega

“Well in certain way, we wanted the government to form part of this—we were looking forward to what happened in 2010. But since that hasn’t happened, we called B.S.I. to then let us sign this interim agreement so that we can proceed and both sides can have something that can have us in a clear situation where we are moving forward. And with this we came today, we presented that to them and many of the points that we brought forward in our letter, they agreed upon, but there are certain areas where they cannot give full consent today so that is what they will be taking to ASR and they will be giving us a response, like I said, either tomorrow or Friday morning which then we hope that will give a more clear light on what we are looking for.”


So that’s where the industry stands tonight. Farmers will decide on Sunday if the sugar mills will crank up by next week.

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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2 Responses for “Millions of dollars reported in losses in delayed crop”

  1. Belizean says:

    “but there are certain areas where they cannot give full consent” The BSCFA is raping BSI. Without consent, is none other than that! What I see in this is that the BSCFA wants more pleasure, knowing that it’s only for them…Rape I call it!

  2. ceo says:

    If BSI had come up with a proactive plan and negotiate in good faith and compensate the farmers for the bagasseI am sure that the industry would not have been stimed and all this back and fort would not have been necessary. Problem is BSI had no intentions to compensate the farmers not even a dime for the newly found use of bagasse. This is typical mentality of large businesses; “hell with the little guys” and here in lies the problem. Farmers also know the value of money. I say stand up for your rights farmers; you will succeed if you stand united. BSI know that they will make money in any case they just wanted all the extra money for themselves.

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