Posted: December 22, 2015. 12:20 p.m. CST.
By Dalila Ical: Rains over the last days have triggered several challenges for sugar cane farmers and the factory. Dampened, some saturated, fields and sugar roads have made if difficult and for some farmers impossible to harvest their crop.
These challenges have translated into delays in deliveries to the mill which subsequently has not been meeting its projected production so far. The factory set out to receive up to 7,000 tons of sugar cane per day but BMG understands that on Monday of this week it only received around 4,000 tons. We have contacted Belize Sugar Industry (BSI) for confirmation but our messages haven’t been answered.
To address the matter, sugar stakeholders met on Monday morning to decide on appropriate action. At the end of that meeting it was decided that under the circumstances the factory will close one day earlier and will be receiving deliveries until 10:00 p.m. today, December 22nd. Farmers have ceased burning fields in preparation for deliveries and will only be delivering cane that has been readied prior.
The effects of the situation differ for each association. Generally, cane farmers have difficulties in harvesting their crop in low lying areas while some are unable to access them completely due to saturated or flooded fields and sugar roads. Those who can manage are incurring more expenses in fuel to haul the crop out. Individually however, some farmers expect to incur losses while others won’t.
The Progressive Sugar Cane Producers Association’s General Manager Cosme Hernandez says 90 percent of their membership, which stands at 982, is being affected. Farmers in Zone 3, Guinea Grass Village, are the only ones that will keep delivering cane today. It is the smallest group of four zones but despite the challenges, Hernandez says they do not expect losses in crop.
The Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association’s Chairman Elvis Canul says half of its membership, which stands at 538, cannot continue delivering. The rains have reduced the quality of the sugar cane and there is more mud than usual being delivered with the cane. Canul says he expects up to 40 tons, or less, of sugar cane that has been prepared for delivery to remain in the fields resulting in some loss for farmers.
Farmers under the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, which holds the largest membership of over 4,000, are also being affected. Those in the San Jose branch are losing more, as much of their fields are in low lying areas. Its Yo Creek branch is also experiencing delays in harvest. Officials at the BSCFA say farmers will be seeing some loss.
Farmers would need at least one week of sun to dry wet fields and sugar roads. Deliveries to the factory will resume on December 26th at ten in the morning.
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