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No holiday for King Sugar as new crop starts Monday; BSI clarifies stance on production estimate for the season

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belize sugarcane

Posted: Sunday, December 27, 2020. 12:55 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: A new season for the sugar industry has been agreed to start on Monday, December 28, according to American Sugar Refining/Belize Sugar Industries Limited (ASR/BSI), despite it being officially a public and bank holiday in substitution of Boxing Day.

But farmers are eager to get started as they will be expecting a much better crop than last year’s 893 thousand tons of cane and approximately 90 thousand tons of sugar, according to Cane Farmer Relations Manager for ASR/BSI, Olivia Avilez, to whom we spoke on Saturday evening.

Avilez says the production estimate for the season is approximately 1.25 million tons of cane in the field in Orange Walk and Corozal, which will be harvested, weather permitting, up to about the middle of June.

But there is some rancor as the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) wants quotas for its divisions in each district increased based on the 2019 estimate of 1.35 million tonnes, severely reduced by drought.

Avilez says ASR/BSI and the other sugar cane farmers’ associations (Progressive Sugar Cane Farmers Association, Corozal Sugar Cane Farmers Association, and Northern Sugar Cane Growers Association) agree with the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB) and Sugar Cane Production Committee (SCPC) that the legal stance on the production estimate is the right one and it has gone to a vote several times, the BSCFA losing each time.

The SCPC added 30 percent to last year’s final delivery total and some additional coefficients to arrive at this year’s estimate, but it still has to be delivered.

BSI is paying a percentage of around 47 dollars as the first price estimate of three for the year.

A successful season will help the struggling Belizean economy get back on its feet after the body blows of the drought last year and earlier this year; floods caused by major hurricanes later in the year, and COVID-19 taking down the economy at the moment.

We’ll continue to follow the season and report on its expected success.

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