By Aaron Humes: Prime Minister John Briceño has told us that he is planning a meeting with the leadership of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) “as soon as I can.”
In response to our question of when the meeting, requested by the Association dating back to September 25, will be held, he told us, “I haven’t met simply because both sides haven’t had the appropriate time to meet. As soon as I can I will meet with them.”
The Association wrote the Prime Minister on September 25 and got no response, so it tried again on October 13, noting that Belize Sugar Industries Limited (BSI) has signed five-year agreements with the three other smaller cane farmers associations while forcing the BSCFA to jump through hoops after it served notice that it wanted to renegotiate its commercial agreement, which expires in January, in time for the start of the 2021 crop season in December.
We also asked whether the P.M. will support the BSCFA initiative, noting that he was a cane farmer, and that if not, whether they might lose trust to the point reached by the former Prime Minister Dean Barrow in 2010.
Briceño’s arch response: “I am a cane farmer that’s not a boast it’s a fact. But as PM I have to do what I think is best for the country not what’s best for me. Our government continues to support the farmers with fuel subsidies and fixing the sugar roads. The BSCFA has every right to renegotiate but both sides must be willing to negotiate. And riots help no-one – not the farmers, the factory, the industry nor the country.”
We have also sought comment from Agriculture Minister Jose Mai and we’ll continue to follow this story.