Sugar Industry Stakeholders met today at the Gala Lounge to strategically plan the future investment of the Industry where key points were raised to remain competitive beyond 2017 in the Global Market. But that’s not all that happened. Our news team was on hand for the event and brings you the following report.
Maria Novelo - Reporting
In an effort to effectively compete in the global market where changes to the EU is imminent, Industry Stakeholders including the Ministry of Agriculture, Belize Sugar Industries Limited, Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and majority holder American Sugar Refinery, met today to chart a way forward in their new Action Plan for the Future of the Sugar Industry of Belize.
While representation from all parties involved brought a full house at the Gala Lounge, introductory remarks were made about the challenges of the industry.
Jose Alpuche– CEO, Ministry of Agriculture
“Although the façade of the industry looks the same the fundamentals have shifted, unfortunately the domestic reforms we undertake are constantly logging behind, a changing goal post in the global market place. There is a new goal post called 2017 and that is one of the principals reasons we have gathered, some of you who were here thirteen years ago will indeed recall that the message was the same, the EU market was reforming and we need to face efficiency, productivity and competitiveness, you will recall that some would say to export sugar production all together.”
And while a new goal post has been set; 2017 and beyond, CEO of BSI Jose Montalvo is looking to define a vision for the future of the Sugar Industry and raise awareness to remain competitive in the global markets as they prepare to meet the challenges of 2017 and beyond.
Jose Montalvo– CEO, BSI
“We are an industry of small farmers, if I can go back and show you the statistics even before there were regulation of license I’ll show you that the trend was the same except that when the sugar act came in and we then started the system of basic reference qualities determining the production estimate of each farmer and allowing each famer to deliver to the extent of their production. We are now seeing the report cards where we can see what the performance is and it proves that we are industry of small farmers and that there is a scope to have those small famers increase their production.”
But what was anticipated to be a healthy stakeholder’s engagement gathering, shifted rather quickly as Alfredo Ortega, Chairman of the BSCFA, Committee of Management, took the podium.
Alfredo Ortega– BSCFA
“In order to project the future we must deal with the present, the foundation of the future depends on what we do now, what we are seeing with this stakeholder engagement is that BSI and ASR incorporated are assuring their future at the expense of our cane farmers, what we are seeing is that both of them are ensuring their future viability by totally disregarding the major current concern of our cane farmers. Unfortunately in this respect BSI and ASR have been frustrating this process by their delay in coming in the negotiating table and their outright rejection to negotiate the payment for bagasse, today BSI has not been able to confirm a date for the resumption for negotiation in response to our proposed date. In view of the above we are left with no other alternative but to withdraw our participation in this engagement we will be more than happy to do so as soon as the negotiation for a new commercial agreement and payment for bagasse have been satisfactorily concluded.”
And while re-negotiations on the New Commercial Agreement is still pending, with the hot button issue being the Bagasse used by BSI to produce energy, Vice President of ASR, Ricardo Lima, hopes that an amicable solution can be met for the greater good of the thriving industry.
Key players of BSI seem unfazed with the walkout. So much so that they did not even care to comment on the issue as all our efforts to get an interview with CEO Montalvo were denied. This is the first engagement of a series of sessions to be held in this regard.
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