Cane deliveries will be “minimal!” BSCFA says the bad roads remain a serious problem

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Jan, 23, 2014
The cane farmers may only be able to deliver a “minimal” amount of cane when the crop starts, because of the deplorable conditions of the sugar roads, Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association Vice-Chairman Afredo Ortega said Thursday.
Despite the road conditions, Ortega told Reporter that the farmers will keep their side of the bargain, and will do their best to make deliveries to Belize Sugar Industries.
He expects, however, that only about 50 percent of the required 5000 to 6000 tonnes per day would be deliverable to the factory.
“It would be a sacrifice for the farmers, because all that was fixed was small portions of the roads,” he explained.
He went on to say that if there is to be any acceleration of the deliveries, it may require the farmers to use their own resources to fill the roads with stones to improve its passableness.
The matter of the roads also came up at Wednesday’s Special House Sitting, when the People’s United Party’s Orange Walk South Area Representative, Jose Mai, criticized the government’s pace of repairing the sugar roads.
Mai said: “The sugar industry cannot afford further delays…we have a 120-day crop to deliver 1.2 million tonnes of sugar cane this year…definitely there will be cane left out this year.”
Mai took into account the BSI’s milling capacity and estimated that only 960,000 tonnes will be delivered.
“You know what is to be left with 240,000 tonnes of cane out there… you are talking about $16 million worth of cane left out…[therefore] it is urgent that we really accelerate the rate of repairs.”
Mai went on to criticize what he described as “politicking” with the road-repair contracts, saying, “Issue the contracts and let the road be repaired.”
Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega was quick to respond to the criticism, saying that the government is doing it’s best and are not playing politics with the road contracts, because it’s the directors of the various BSCFA branches who guided the process.
“We contracted the roads with the advice of all the directors of the sugar branches. They were the ones who decided which sugar roads to be repaired.”
Vega also said that it is unreasonable for Mai to expect them to accelerate the process, considering the current conditions of some of the roads.
“There are still sugar roads that are under water, as we speak. How are we going to fix those roads?”
The 2013-14 sugar crop is scheduled to begin tomorrow, Friday, January 24, 2014.
The potential of a prolonged deceleration of cane deliveries comes as another unwelcomed blow to the industry, which have been delayed for approximately two months due to a recently settled impasse between the cane farmers and American Sugar Refining, BSI’s majority shareholders.
The association had demanded a fair share of the revenue generated from the bagasse, a cane by-product which BELCOGEN uses to generate electricity, which is in turn sold to Belize Electricity Limited.

Comments are closed.