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Santander Sugar kicks off 2021 crop season

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belize sugarcane

Posted: Tuesday, February 9, 2021. 1:43 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Santander Sugar Group is set to begin its 2021 crop season with an approximately 15 to 20 percent increase in production, executives told reporters today.

Despite a delay due to rains at the start of the year, the company is excited to contribute to national and economic development, according to Chief Executive Officer Jose Rodriguez and brother David, the Chief Financial Officer.

The group is in its sixth year and expects to produce 750 thousand metric tons of cane for 75 thousand tons of sugar (a ratio of tons cane to tons sugar of exactly 10 to 1). 30 thousand tons of molasses will be produced as well as 38 million kilowatt-hours of electricity for the national grid.

Santander’s Cane Farmers Program has increased production from farmers to 45 percent of its total production; the majority, 55 percent, comes from its own fields. In addition, the company employs a majority Belizean staff of 85 percent of its total capacity of 700.

Among Santander’s plans this year are the expansion of its export terminal in Big Creek, Stann Creek District; capacity for sugar and molasses, and expanding export markets.

As with its larger cousin ASR/BSI to the North, it had to contend with a harvest bookended by rain. 250 millimetres of rain in three days hurt the end of the 2020 crop which was extended into July, while as tendering of this year’s crop got underway in October, “the worst rains for half a century” hit Cayo District due to Hurricanes Eta and Iota, causing damage to between three and five percent of the crop (most of the cane was already mature).

We have more to come, including an analysis of Santander’s export and internal markets and how the recent sugar settlement with Saint Kitts and Nevis will help the industry as a whole.

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