Sugar Cane Season scheduled to commence on Monday, January 20th
Saturday, January 18th, 2014
After several month of delay in the sugar cane season Belize Sugar Industry (BSI) has finally reached an agreement with the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) to commence the season on Monday, January 20th. In a press release issued on Monday, January 13th the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) announced that BSCFA and BSI have signed a memorandum to allow negotiations to fix the quota of payment for bagasse (the pulp or dry refuse left after the juice has been extracted from sugar cane).
The memorandum stated that the cane farmers are to start the season and deliver sugar cane uninterrupted until the season ends; in return BSI would allow negotiations to allocate a portion of funds for payment for bagasse to BSCFA. This concerned many cane farmers as BSI did not necessarily set an agreement for payments. According to the Christopher Coye, Attorney for BSFCA the memorandum will facilitate an open negotiation for the bagasse payment. “BSI in good faith intends to make a payment for bagasse; subject to negotiations of a no agreement, BSI has stated and restated that it cannot give a binding commitment to pay now. It can commit to the process. It can commit to the intent, but it cannot commit to a binding commitment to pay,” stated the Coye.
Chief Executive Officer of BSI, Joey Montalvo, also expressed concern on the delay of the product and the effects it has had not only in the sugar industry but in the country as a whole. “Well I am particularly pleased that we signed today and I think we now must focus on the crop getting, getting the crop off the ground. We have a late start and we have a big crop to mill. We must also focus on the negotiations coming ahead as well, to finalize that,” said Montalvo.
The OPM also announced that two million dollars will be set aside to repair the sugar roads to facilitate the delivery of sugar cane to the factory. Work on the roads is scheduled to start immediately.