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Progressive and Corozal sugar farmers say “let’s get it on!” as interim agreement signed

Posted: Saturday, December 24, 2022. 8:47 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The sugar season will get rolling on December 27 after an agreement has been reached on continuing the interim agreement between Belize Sugar Industries Limited/American Sugar Refining (BSI/ASR) and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association (BSCFA), with hopes that a full commercial agreement can be reached in that time.

The agreement lasts for 12 calendar months from inception rather than a crop season which typically runs from December to May or early June.

But it comes none too soon for the Progressive Sugar Cane Producers Association and Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association who in a joint statement on Friday threatened potential legal action if the situation had dragged on.

The two associations, which represent 1,238 farmers, repeat that they have binding commercial agreements with BSI/ASR and that BSCFA is not a party to either of their agreements and vice versa.

However, they worry that all of their investments in their cane fields and the resulting financial arrangements could go for naught as the time has come and gone for the projected start of the season earlier this week.

“Both Associations have duly performed, yet BSI/ASR’s gates remain shut preventing us from effecting delivery of our crops,” their statement reads – and the delay, they add, is caused by something they are not even a party to and which they have refrained from getting involved in.

In order to avoid a repeat of last year’s 14-day delay, they had called on BSI/ASR to honor their respective agreements and begin receiving their cane as they are independent of the BSCFA and not concerned with their issues. They also ask the Government to act as an “honest broker” while reserving their right to take legal action in order to protect their livelihoods.

Some 1.3 million tonnes of cane are expected to be milled this season; however, BSI/ASR will start more slowly than usual as they commission the new emission system intended to reduce damaging emissions from Tower Hill.

 

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