By Benjamin Flowers
The Belize watchdog group which calls itself the
Rod of Correction (ROC) in light of the present impasse between the Belize Cane Farmers Association and the Belize Sugar Industries Limited has called on upon the Sugar Industry Control Board to set a date for the grinding season to begin.
ROC maintains that the Sugar Industry Control Board, being a legally constituted entity under the Sugar Industry Act, is mandated by law to set the date for the opening of the crop season.
ROC has joined the National Trade UnionCongress of Belize in calling on the Sugar Industry Control Board to obey the law and proceed to consult ASR /BSI and BSCFA and, thereafter, to make its decision to set the date for the grinding season.
A release put out by the ROC states that the “ROC remains steadfast in its support in ensuring that the sugar cane farmers of Belize do not become reduced to mere laborers working the sugar cane fields for foreign entities, rather than being primary stakeholders in the industry. .
Earlier this month the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association agreed to accept 51 cents a ton for the bagasse by-product which is being used as fuel for the Belcogen re-generating plant on the understanding that this price is to be reviewed after three years.
BSI directors, when they drew up the agreement, added a clause insisting that the factory had the right to reject any truckload of sugarcane which it considered unsuitable or of poor quality.
The canefarmers association seized on this unauthorized addition to demand new negotiations, even after BSI withdrew the offending clause.
Last year the Belize Cane Farmers Association forced BSI into a corner where it conceded to begin the grinding season without a signed delivery agreement. This time around BSI has vowed that this is not going to happen again.
Observers have noted however that even if the Sugar Industry Control Board should order BSI to begin the grinding season without a signed agreement, BSI does not have to go along with the order if it can show that compliance would be prejudicial to its long term interests.