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Prime Minister commits to meeting with cane farmers ‘next week’

Posted: Thursday, November 11, 2021. 2:08 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association (BSCFA) is hoping the third time is the charm as it wrote to Prime Minister John Briceño requesting a meeting in relation to breaking the impasse over the commercial agreement with Belize Sugar Industries Limited/American Sugar Refining (BSI/ASR).

And the Prime Minister gave his answer via television interview on Wednesday, saying, “I do plan to meet with the associations sometime next week,…”

In its latest letter dated November 4, the BSCFA complains that BSI/ASR still refuses to negotiate any new agreement with them, and is sowing fear among members by claiming that they cannot deliver cane in the forthcoming season without an agreement. This has played havoc with financial institutions being asked to provide credit for cane farmers’ operations, while other associations are secure in their arrnagements with Tower Hill.

The two sides have met to exchange initial positions, but BSCFA is effectively asking the Government for an audience to hear its side.

The Prime Minister told reporters that he can only play referee: “, I don’t think that the government can go in and settle their differences… I think both of them make valid points and it’s just a matter of sitting down and having a conversation, not talking above each other, but with each other to try to come to a reasonable compromise.”

He added that both recognize that they need each other – the ASR investment is nothing without the cane; the farmers’ investment is nothing without the sugar mill.

And so he concluded, “The important thing is that people need to work, the farmers want to deliver their cane and BSI needs to deliver as much sugar as they possible can to be able to see to not only locally but to the Caribbean and to their customers.”

 

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