Posted: Friday, April 23, 2021. 3:32 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Belize Sugar Industries Limited/American Sugar Refining (BSI) says in a statement it intends to grind all the sugar cane contracted to it, as it does every year.
It will not otherwise comment on the decision by Government to have 50 thousand tons of sugar cane from farmers in Corozal and Orange Walk (25,000 tons each at $55 per ton) to be milled by Santander Sugar Group in its Valley of Peace, Cayo District mill.
It did however note that neither it, nor farmers, to its knowledge, had been consulted on the decision.
Government moved after determining that the Tower Hill factory, which had been briefly shut down in January due to weather and mechanical problems, would not be able to mill all the cane it was assigned for the year, and it wanted to avoid cane left standing in the fields.
In the House of Representatives during his Budget presentation, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise Jose Abelardo Mai said that at present, by the expected June 30 ending to the sugar season, Tower Hill will process approximately 1.06 million tons of cane, leaving approximately 128 thousand tons in the field, down from the previous estimate of 1.3 million and about 360 thousand tons. Mai listed the figures of tons of cane left in the cane fields over the last decade of zafras and said this state of affairs would not do.
Farmers had a chance to reduce estimated losses of $5.7 million, but there would still be cane left in the field.
Mai insisted he would never try to undermine ASR’s position, but Government was simply offering an alternative – one that as a cane farmer himself, he will take so that he can pay his loans to the Development Finance Corporation (DFC), as many farmers will.
Attorney General Magali Marin-Young earlier told reporters that the move does not contravene the Sugar Industry Act.
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