Posted: Saturday, December 26, 2020. 4:00 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: The largest of the now-four major cane farmers’ organizations, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) has registered its dissatisfaction with the quota allocations to farmers across the industry, based on the Cane Farmer Register prepared and recommended by the Sugar Cane Production Committee and approved by the Sugar Industry Control Board.
The BSCFA cites “blatant irregularities committed in the process of determining and approving the Cane Farmer Register for the 2020/2021 sugar cane crop,” arguing that production estimates assigned on the register are a “gross injustice” to a majority of farmers and that there has been a “lack of transparency and full disclosure of all pertinent information equally to all members of the Sugar Cane Production Committee to enable proper and adequate verification of the production estimates assigned to each registered cane farmer and hence to make an appropriate recommendation regarding the said Cane Farmer Register.
The BSCFA said cane farmers have been trying at all costs to restore their production levels that were affected by the drought and floods. But it blames the other associations (Progressive Sugar Cane Farmers Association, Corozal Sugar Cane Farmers Association, and Northern Sugar Cane Growers Association) and BSI for insisting that only information pertaining to each organization be given to that organization, despite each organization having to approve the Register without such information.
The BSCFA says it has had enough “of the oppressive manipulations of BSI and other Associations that treat cane farmers unjustly and unfairly,” but does not say what action it will take next after failing to get its concerns heard in the December 23 SICB meeting.
Earlier this month, American Sugar Refining/Belize Sugar Industries Limited (ASR/BSI) said that they have been ready since December 14, however farmers said that they wanted time to recover from the recent rains. The new date set for the opening of the crop is now Monday, 28th December, and it is left to be seen whether the BSCFA will cooperate fully with the delivery of cane as per the allocations under the current register.
We intend to follow up with Minister of Agriculture Jose Mai and other stakeholders in subsequent stories.
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