Editorial

Editorial

The dispute which has flared up between the Belize Cane Farmers Association and the Belize Sugar Industries should not be allowed to esclate out of control.
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BSI’s top management has threatened that unless the Association signs on to a new agreement, one which other associations have already endorsed, Belize Cane Farmers Association members will not be allowed to deliver sugarcane to the factory during the next production season.

We all understand BSI’s anxiety to have all its ducks lined up in a row before it invests US 22 million of new money in the Libertad Sugar Factory to enable it to produce refined white. We understand too the pressures which BSI faces, now that EU subsidies have been removed from Caribbean sugar.

But we cannot agree that BSI has any authority, legal or otherwise, to bar BSCA sugarcane from being processed. If the Association should choose to withhold its sugarcane, that is a different matter! But for the factory to refuse to accept BSCA cane when BSCA is prepared to supply it, that is not acceptable! .
The Belize Cane Farmers Association has a right to negotiate for fair prices. It has a right to ask searching questions. It has a right to be treated with respect, because the association represents the livelihood of hundreds of cane farmers. .
Sugarcane is the lifeblood of the canefarmer community. They cannot survive without this crop. No one has the right to refuse their sugarcane so long as canefarmers are willing to supply it. .
The Belize Cane Farmers Association has already lost many of its members because of the perceived intransigence of its elected leaders. They will lose more members if in their zeal to show themselves strong, they fail to take into account the new realities of the international sugar market and continue to do things to hurt their membership.
But that is a house-keeping job for canefarmers who are members of the Association, not BSI !

We believe that BSI should look for a negotiated way to end the present confrontation without doing any harm to hard-working canefarmers who do the work of planting and harvesting the sugar-cane.

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