More problems for cane farmers

By Benjamin Flowers
Staff Reporter

The approaching rainy season could add to the list of problems that cane farmers are facing, says Alfredo Ortega, deputy chairman of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association.

Ortega told The Reporter on Wednesdays that scattered rains experienced over the weekend have caused some delays in transporting cane to BSI sugar factory.

“It has not been much, but if the rains continue a lot of cane could be left in the fields,” Ortega said.
He also said that the roads to access the mill have not gotten any repairs, despite numerous requests to the Ministry of Works in Orange Walk. He added that repairs have not been done on any of the roads since February.

Another contention exists in the negotiations with BSI over remuneration for bagasse. According to Ortega, since the cane farmers made their counter proposal in April, BSI has neither accepted the proposal nor responded with another offer.

He says that BSI has until Friday May 23 to respond, or the BSCFA will convene a general meeting to discuss what action needs to be taken.

In their last round of negotiations BSI offered the farmers 51 cents per ton for bagasse. However the farmers contend that, based on the formula used by BSI, they could afford $4 per ton.
The three-month delay of the 2013-2014 sugar crop was a combination of bad weather, poor road conditions and breakdowns in negotiations with BSI.

The delay in the crop put the cane farmers at risk to lose some $13 million. The BSCFA had said that with favourable weather, rains holding out until mid June, it would be possible for them to meet their 1.2 million ton quota.

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