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Sugar stakeholders meet with the Ministry of Agriculture

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Posted: Friday, September 3, 2021. 11:35 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Ministry of Agriculture says it has met with both sides of the suddenly burgeoning sugar dispute in the North and other stakeholders.

Minister Jose Mai and parliamentarians Ramiro Ramirez and Elvia Vega Samos met with representatives of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association, the Progressive Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association and Northern Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association.

The discussions focused on the commercial agreement between farmers and Belize Sugar Industries Limited/American Sugar Refining Group (ASR/BSI), and the Sugar Industry Act review process that all parties are engaged in.

The BSCFA is the primary source of the dispute, declaring its dissatisfaction with critical components including payment for bagasse and commitment to better milling operations. The meeting, per an official government statement, sought to first seek common ground between the associations on both issues and to present a united front as producers in light of the upcoming situations facing the industry. All present agreed to work together for the greater benefit of the industry.

The meeting follows on from meetings with ASR/BSI and Santander hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture to discuss future plans by both sugar millers for the industry. In particular, marketing issues were looked at by the different parties with a view to getting clarity on the future of the industry.

ASR/BSI has so far resisted calls for negotiations, fearing disruption in the industry after a rebound season; both sides have laid accusations of misrepresentation at each other.

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