Posted: Tuesday, June 11, 2019. 1:54 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: The 2018-2019 sugar crop has been going so well that the American Sugar Refineries owned by the Belize Sugar Industries (ASR/BSI) is on a path to meet its production targets for the season.
Olivia Avilez, manager of Cane Farmer Relations, told Breaking Belize News (BBN) today that the factory has been able to grind out more sugar despite receiving less sugarcane when compared to the same time period last crop. During the same time period last year, the factory
had received 1.15 million tons of sugar cane; however this year, they have only received 1.11 million tons.
The general target for the crop is to mill around 140,000 tons and even with the reduction in the amount of cane, Avilez explained that the factory had milled over 136,000 tons, as opposed to the 130,000 tons milled during the same time period last crop.
“Several things coming together have been responsible for this: the weather has been very favorable, and really good cane quality,” Avilez said.
She explained that during the dry weather, the cane has a higher concentration of sugar because the plant doesn’t absorb as much much water as it does when the rains come. That higher concentration of sugar in the cane gives a greater yield when the cane is milled.
Despite how well the crop is going, Avilez said that there have been challenges the factory and farmers have had to face together.
Ironically, the dry weather that increases the cane quality also lowers the water levels at the river, which the factory uses for the milling process. The decrease in the availability of water has reduced the amount of milling that can be done during those low periods. The industry is also struggling with low world sugar prices, and trying to maintain investments within the industry despite those low prices.
The factory is also putting more effort into manufacturing to be able to produce more direct-consumption sugars, instead of raw sugar. The sugar industry plays an important role in Belize’s exports, that its performance determines whether or not exports show growth or a shortfall in a given month.
For the month of April 2019, an increase in the revenues earned from sugar exports were the major contributor in total exports growing by some 80 percent when compared to the year before when sugar exports were down.
The beginning of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season and the expected rains to follow will play a major role in the coming weeks as the factory strives to meet its target.
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