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December 3, 2020

Sugar getting set to return – are farmers ready? 

belize sugarcane

Posted: Thursday, December 3, 2020. 6:36 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: This time last year, sugar cane farmers in the North faced delay in the start of the season due to a severe drought that killed off up to 300,000 tons of cane. 

Now, it is the rain and soggy ground that is the factor in another potential delay. 

Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, Jose Abelardo Mai, and Cane Farmer Relations Manager for Belize Sugar Industries/American Sugar Refining (BSI/ASR), Olivia Avilez, separately confirmed that a tentative date of December 14 had been floated for the start of the 2020-2021 season. 

Avilez told us Wednesday afternoon that the word from the separate cane farmer associations is that their members are not ready for that date, mainly because of the changeable weather. They promised to get back to the mill, which is ready and waiting, with a firm date. 

Minister Mai noted that the quality testing for sugar cane in preparation for the season, being done by the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB) has not found quality by the industry’s exacting standards. 

Nonetheless, he said he would meet today, Thursday, with his counterpart Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing, Julius Espat, to begin plans for repairs to sugar roads. 

On the irony of begging for rain last year to survive the drought, only to have an excess of it this year, the Minister said: “It makes you realize and understand that climate change is here, it’s real.” 

And in related news, Belize is pursuing its Original Jurisdiction law suit against the states of Trinidad and Tobago and St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean Court of Justice for buying brown sugar from Guatemala and Honduras without paying the Common External Tariff a few years ago.



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