By Benjamin Fllowers
The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association is requesting clarification from the biggest importer of sugar, Tate and Lyle Sugars, on changes made to the payment scheme for the upcoming sugarcane crop.
The BSCFA wrote to the company on Thursday, after receiving a letter stating the the farmers would no longer be paid 30 days after delivery. They would now have to wait until after the company has sold the sugar.
According to Vice Chairman of the BSCFA, Alfredo Ortega, the association did not have any prior knowledge that the arrangement was being changed and is concerned about the implications it has on the farmers meeting their financial commitments.
“It can take any where between two to three years,” Ortega explained on Thursday.
The BSCFA also requested clarification on the new minimum quota of 10,000 tons, and how much of the sugar exceeding that amount would be paid for at the fair trade premium price of US$60 per ton.
Tate and Lyle Senior Vice President of International operations, Simon Gibbons, wrote to Ortega on Tuesday explaining that the change to the payment scheme would take effect immediately, in preparation for the 2014/2015 crop.
“For the 2014/2015 crop this will mean that this premium will be paid to the BSCFA when Tate and Lyle has sold this sugar to our customers in the EU,” Gibbons said.
The company also said that provisions will be made to pay premium prices on balances exceeding the minimum depending on the market demand.
“Should sugar demand be higher than expected and total sugar receipts be greater than the volume specified above, then Tate and Lyle Sugars may pay premium on all or part of the balance,” Gibbons added.
Tate and Lyle purchased some 65,000 tons of sugar to sell to the EU last crop, as opposed to the 100 tons sold to the Canadian market.
See actual letter below.