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December 8, 2023

Belize Sugar Industries Limited dissatisfied with delay of 2023-24 sugar cane season start

Posted: Friday, December 8, 2023. 3:13 pm CST.

Truck delivering cane to BSI in June 2023 – Photo Credit: BSI

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Belize Sugar Industries Limited (BSI) said, in a statement issued dated December 8, that it is dissatisfied with the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB) decision to delay the start of the 2023-24 sugar cane crop from December 15 to December 28.

BSI said that as is customary, it convened a stakeholders meeting for Friday, December 1, 2023, to discuss mill readiness and the crop start date. In a press release, BSI said that three of the four sugar cane farmers associations, namely the Northern Sugar Cane Producers Association (NSCPA), the Progressive Sugar Cane Producers Association (PSCPA), and the Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association (CSCPA), were present along with the SICB Chairman.

The sugar company said after BSI informed the stakeholders that the season could start on December 11, they agreed to start the sugar cane season on December 15 and asked the SICB Chairman to announce the decision. BSI said the SICB Chairman  said he would follow the proper process.

However, BSI said that at a subsequent meeting called by SICB for December 11, the Sugar Cane Production Committee (SCPC) representative said the season couldn’t start on December 15 since cane quality wouldn’t be optimal. No Data or analysis was presented to back up the assertion.

Belize Sugar Industries milling facilities at Tower Hill – (Photo Credit: BSI)

“The recommendation to delay the start of crop was surprising given the majority of farmers associations’ leaders had already indicated that commencement of the crop, as soon as possible, was of utmost importance to prevent the loss of cane cutters moving to Mexico, where the crop has already started,” BSI said in the December 8 statement.

“Government representatives, who hold a voting majority on the SICB, voted to start on December 28, 2023, against the will of the mill and a majority of cane farmers’ associations. Instances such as this, where the government dictates operational decisions to a private sector industry in which it has no commercial interest, corroborate BSI’s rationale for its legal challenge to parts of the antiquated Sugar Act which allows this type of intervention.”

The BSI statement went on to say that apart from losing cane cutters to Mexico, where the season already started, the sugar cane start delay “is very likely to exacerbate the scarcity of plantation white sugar.”

BSI closed their statement making a plea for Government to increase the price of retailed sugar which it said is subsidized by the industry.

 

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