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Special general meeting could decide way forward in sugar industry

Audrey Matura Shepherd

Posted: Friday, January 2, 2015. 10:40 pm CST.

Cane farmers meet

Cane farmers meet

Friday, January 2, 2015. AARON HUMES Reporting: Having received their primary demand – a meeting of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA)’s full membership for this Sunday, January 4 – attorney for farmer Lucilo Teck and Association executive Javier Keme, Audrey Matura Shepherd, awaits the result of the meeting.

That result will determine the way forward with a potential injunction and order of writ of mandamus compelling the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB) to order the crop to start.

Today’s planned hearing was adjourned for a date to be determined.

Audrey Matura Shepherd

Audrey Matura Shepherd

According to Matura-Shepherd while the injunction is dependent on Sunday’s events the writ is not; she disputes the seeming powerlessness of Government on the issue as she presses for an urgent hearing.

Matura-Shepherd maintains that farmers have been misled about the power of the SICB and expects that they must be told the full truth before voting to, as she puts it, “give up their rights.”

As for news today that the home of Association CEO Oscar Alonzo in the San Lorenzo Housing Site was burnt down, Matura-Shepherd could not confirm any relation to the ongoing rift in the Association and industry.

Combined with reported threats to opponents of the agreement to burn down their cane fields, she issued a plea for unity on the common cause of getting the best they can.

Alonzo was out of the country and a motive for the attack is not known at this time.

Matura-Shepherd told reporters that she does not see how BSI/ASR can argue that they have any ownership in the product if all they are responsible for is milling and selling sugar cane products such as molasses and bagasse for which they pay the farmers, not the stalk itself.

If it is true that BSI has always owned the cane, then there is no reason for the season not to start.

She added that BSI has tried to hoodwink farmers to believe they are not giving anything of value while attempting to take over how cane is accepted in terms of quality.

It is for this reason that farmers are being given the information they need to make the right decision on Sunday, an exercise in which Matura-Shepherd is participating and says the result of which she will accept if it goes against her clients.

Sunday’s meeting is scheduled to start at 9 am.


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