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Sugar crop season start will likely be delayed; mediation, mill readiness among issues to be settled

Posted: Saturday, December 17, 2022. 10:05 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: On Friday, a spokesperson for Belize Sugar Industries Limited/American Sugar Refining (BSI/ASR) said they would have more details on plans for the start of the 2022-2023 sugar crop season on Monday, which was intended to be its start date.

The main issue continues to be the ongoing mediation between BSI/ASR and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association (BSCFA), led by attorney and licensed mediator Julie-Ann Ellis-Bradley.

Otherwise, reports suggest, BSI/ASR has said they are ready to start following successful steam trials this week, and the three smaller cane farmers’ associations are eager to start to avoid a repeat from previous seasons in which sugar cane value was lost due to late starts.

The body responsible for officially declaring the start of the season is the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB). According to Agriculture Minister Jose Mai, he recently reconstituted the board after its term ended, but the chairman remains Marcos Osorio whom we were not able to reach on Friday for comment.

At the time of Ellis-Bradley’s appointment, Osorio told us that three meeting dates had been set and he was optimistic that there would be good news coming out of them, but that has not been the case. He reiterated that the SICB is the only body that could officially start the season, and will decide upon that date after meeting all parties.

The SICB is reported to be meeting today, Saturday, concerning plans to open the season.

 

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