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Leaked letter suggests BSCFA needs to reach agreement with BSI or risk decertification from Fairtrade; not so says the BSCFA

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Posted: Wednesday, December 8, 2021. 5:37 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: A leaked letter released by elements within the BSI/ASR group and purportedly coming from Fairtrade and alleged to be addressed to the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) appears to put pressure on the Association to avoid decertification by signing on to a Commercial Agreement with Belize Sugar Industries Limited/American Sugar Refining (BSI/ASR).

The letter suggests that per Fairtrade standards there must be a binding purchase contract between a member and a producer. Failure to maintain one would result in failing this part of the FLOCERT audit.

According to the leaked letter Fairtrade is prepared to sign the draft letter of enhanced agreement which sets out a minimum volume to be bought from BSI and which requires all signatories to remain certified by Fairtrade.

An agreement must be in place, the writer states, or Tate and Lyle Sugars, a primary buyer, would not be allowed to buy on Fairtrade terms. It encourages BSCFA to reach a “reasonable and mutually beneficial conclusion to the current situation.”

In an exclusive interview with Breaking Belize News (BBN), BSCFA Chairman Andy Westby clarified that their agreement with BSI for the purchase and supply of cane does not expire until January 19, 2022 hence there is a cane contract in place with BSI that allows BSCFA to sign the letter of enhanced agreement. Manager of the BSCFA, Oscar Alonzo, also clarified that the BSCFA remained Fairtrade Certified as per the last FLOCERT Audit.

BBN then spoke with Minister of Agriculture, Jose Mai, who indicated that the Prime Minister of Belize publicly declared that the BSCFA and its members will deliver their cane during the 2021-2022 crop to BSI under a one-year extension of the existing commercial agreement to be signed by BSCFA and BSI before the commencement of crop, and that the leaked letter was “an intent to create mischief”.

We’ll continue to follow the story.

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