The impasse between the farmers and the factory in northern Belize ended unofficially on Monday when the BSCFA signed with ASR/BSI to deliver cane for the 2015 crop season. That signalled the end of a crippling impasse which has caused an unprecedented delay of the crop.
But it became official on Thursday when, following a meeting with all stakeholders in the industry, Sugar Industry Control Board Chairman Gabriel Martinez made the announcement – “the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, the Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association and the Progressive Sugar Cane Producers Association, along with ASR/BSI and our Deputy Prime Minister, have agreed that the start of the 2015 sugar cane crop will be on Monday, January 26th at ten o’clock in the morning.”
The three associations and farmers have been given until the end of the day to register. When that time has elapsed, the Sugar Cane Production Committee will embark on the intensive job of scheduling the harvesting and delivery of cane to the factory.
That task will be somewhat more complicated than it previously was, with the addition of two new associations. The season generally lasts 28 weeks, less because of the delay, so it will be the job of the SCPC to ensure that as much cane as is possible be delivered to the factory for milling.
It is estimated that there is as much as 1.4 million tons of cane in the fields to be harvested. At full capacity the factory can mill just over 7,000 tons of cane daily, but averages closer to 6,000. It is expected that with time not on the side of any of the stakeholders, ASR/BSI will attempt to push the envelope where milling is concerned.
Today stakeholders also signed a Statement of Commitment in regard to a Strategic Development Plan for the industry. The plan will include a comprehensive analysis of the roles of stakeholders, and a framework for a more beneficial partnership between farmers, factory and attendant entities.
Meanwhile, government has already allocated two million dollars – $1M for Corozal and $1M for Orange Walk – to the Ministry of Works for immediate remedial work on sugar roads which have deteriorated to the point of becoming impassable. Those works have started on the worst of the sugar roads.