Posted: Tuesday, December 29, 2020. 9:35 am CST.
By BBN Staff: The Belize Sugar Industry (BSI) noted that the Belize sugar cane crop season commenced on Monday, December 28, 2020.
Amidst the challenges brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate and pests, the season for the northern Belize Sugar Cane Crop season began.
To officially approve the commencement of the season, the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB) convened a special meeting on Sunday.
The SICB’s official announcement followed a discussion and review of the Sugar Cane Production Committee (SCPC) production estimates for the 2020-21 crop.
According to a statement from BSI, it had initially signaled its willingness to begin the crop as early as December 14, 2020 given the positive impact of improved weather conditions over the previous prolonged drought and the expected increased cane production.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the now well-established ceremonial cane toss usually carried out by associations’ leaders, BSI and government representatives had to be abandoned, nevertheless, the mill gates opened at 10.30 a.m.
“However, cane supply for milling has been very slow, with farmers citing a range of reasons, including the poor state of feeder sugar roads and some uncertainty over the start date,” BSI noted.
BSI Vice-President of International Relations, Mac McLachlan, emphasized the requirement for steady cane supply to keep the mill functioning.
The mill cannot run effectively with less than 5,500 tons of cane per day. Without this, the mill season can be jeopardized.
He urged farmers to respond and deliver their cane. He emphasized the importance of the industry as a key driver for the north and the country’s economy especially given the economic impact associated with COVID-19.
He underscored the fact that the industry:
supports the livelihoods and wellbeing of approximately 15 percent of Belizeans,
contributes greatly to the national economy, both through its contribution to Belize’s foreign exchange income (around six (6) percent), Agricultural Gross Value Added (around thirty (30) percent) and
supplies fifteen (15) percent of Belize’s electricity needs.
McLachlan also highlighted BSI’s continuous investments to ensure the industry remains competitive in the world sugar market and willingness to leverage support for communities and farmers to overcome the varied challenges.
On the factory side, phased expansion, to increase production capacity of value-added direct consumption sugars, continues.
Direct consumption sugars attract a considerably higher premium than raw sugars and are more marketable because they require no additional processing.
The company says that it hopes to collaborate with the new administration via the Ministry of Agriculture and all stakeholders, collectively and seamlessly, in the immediate, medium and long term to address and transform all challenges into opportunities to ensure the industry’s viability and long-term success.
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