Friday, July 12, 2024

BSI Donates Refractometers


Belize Sugar Industries Ltd. (BSI) continues to support farmers to combat the challenges of climate change, pests and COVID-19. The latest donation, distributed this week and tied to the Pre-harvest Cane Quality Project, signals BSI’s unwavering commitment to move the industry forward at all levels.
Launched in 2017, the 3-year Pre-harvest Cane Quality Project, co-funded by the Hershey Company Ltd, came to an end in November of last year. The objective of the project was to offer technical assistance and training to Test Groups and Harvesting Group Leaders (HGL) on ways to select the sweetest and most mature cane for harvesting utilizing refractometers. This scientific approach to the maturity and readiness of sugar cane provided cane sampling data which on analysis empowered farmers to make better harvesting plans.
Farmers have been trained to use refractometers to test the cane stalk for the highest sweetness based on parameters related to Brix, which determines the Maturity Index. The higher the Brix the better and more mature the cane is. The results were then provided to the group leaders to prioritize their harvesting plans and maximize sugar yields for the entire sugar industry by cutting cane at its optimal ripeness.
During the project’s lifespan, many positive outcomes were recorded including the enrollment of 18 Test Groups; 250 Harvest Group Leaders; participation of 4,904 farmers; 53,488 individual samples collected from farmers; 6,574 fields sampled; 29,028 aggregated analysis results returned to farmers; achievement of 86% Average Purity as well as 17 Harvesting Plans completed.
Commencing 2 March, BSI donated 25 refractometers to HGLs, trained under the project, to continue using this tool in the proper planning and harvesting of their cane fields. The Pre-Harvest Cane Quality Program was executed by ASR Group Belize Sugar in collaboration with the Sugar Cane Production Committee (SCPC) with co-funding from the Hershey Company, , and the participating test group leaders.
Another phase of this project is currently under development, it will focus on capacity building to the monitor and control the Stem borer, a new pest affecting the sugar industry of northern Belize.

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