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Discovery of Gramoxone container in cane delivery raises alarm

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Posted: Saturday, June 18, 2022. 8:29 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: According to the Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association (CSCPA), at least one two-gallon container of Gramoxone herbicide (trade name Proquat) was found in a trip of cane delivery at the cross-carrier section of the Tower Hill sugar factory this week.

The CSCPA warns that this substance is included in the list of prohibited and hazardous materials under Fairtrade international criteria, and so can put the industry in trouble of losing its certification and status.

The Association called for continued vigilance on the part of producers, farmers, and the Ministry of Agriculture and called on Belize Sugar Industries Limited/American Sugar Refining (BSI/ASR) to fully investigate the incident and report to stakeholders.

According to Channel 7 News, a week ago, BSI/ASR made a post on their Facebook page alerting farmers and the general public that someone had delivered parts of an old bicycle as part of their cane deliveries. The company has already pointed out that objects like these cause severe damage to the mill’s machinery and equipment. That causes hours of mill stoppage, which then reduces productivity. The repairs are also costly to the company, and the lost time hurts the farmers who can’t deliver their cane on time.

Minister of Agriculture Jose Mai expressed to CTV-3 News, Orange Walk, his hope that the finds are not deliberate and sabotage: “I’ll be very disappointed to know if farmers are trying to sabotage the mill. Sabotaging the mill is like sabotaging the farmer himself. It’s not a good practice. It’s bad for business. It’s bad for the industry. … I would discourage every farmer not [to] do that if it’s being done intentionally.”

The crop, entering its last few weeks, is presently on pause due to ongoing weather conditions.

 

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