Screen_Shot_2013-12-19_at_6.13.04_PM“Disappointing and Disturbing” that’s how the Belize Sugar Industries Limited describes the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association’s response to their compromise to negotiate a payment for Bagasse an issue that is taking quite a while to resolve and from the looks of things will not end anytime time soon. On one side of the ring we have the cane farmers who want to be paid for the bagasse used by BSI to produce energy.


On the other side of the ring you have BSI who changed its tune recently. Instead of saying no to revenue sharing, they are now saying they will pay cane farmers for the bagasse. How much is yet unknown because that has to be negotiated and what BSI proposes is to start the crop simultaneously with the negotiations so as to increase the chances of a complete crop harvest this season.

BSI also proposes that while the new agreement is being negotiated it be clarified that ownership of the cane is transferred to the mill upon delivery, as is the practice throughout the worldwide sugar industry, so that the solution could provide a long term basis on which the mill and the farmers can plan for the future and focus on the critical issue of productivity. Another point of contention is that BSI/ASR also proposes that once a payment for the bagasse is issued cane farmers will no longer qualify for revenue sharing of any other by-product.

But while representatives of the BSCFA agreed to the proposal in principle during a meeting held with the Prime Minister on December 11th, things changed rather quickly when cane farmers rejected the proposals and sent a counterproposal to the Prime Minister basically stating that BSI must legally obligate itself in writing to make payment for bagasse before cane delivery can start.

Now here is where the problem lies because according to BSI, BSCFA’s approach puts at risk all stakeholders in the industry, including the entire country of Belize. This, according to BSI is quite irresponsible and unreasonable.

In a press release issued this afternoon, BSI states that the BSCFA is basically saying and we quote “I WILL ONLY SIT AND ENTER INTO DISCUSSIONS WITH YOU IF YOU FIRST CONCEDE AND PUT IN WRITING THAT I AM RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG”. According to BSI, to accede to this type of intimidation would be an important and damaging precedent for negotiations for any industry.

“The danger to the sugar crop is now imminent. Should the crop be delayed beyond difficulties caused by the rain, the loss to farmers themselves would not only be substantial, they would be irreversible.” says BSI/ASR.

In conclusion BSI/ASR states that the company stands ready to start the crop once the weather permits and in parallel to return to the negotiating table with the BSCFA to conclude discussions on a new agreement that would include a payment for bagasse.

While BSI and BSCFA continue with the tug and war, what’s important to note is that Sugar Industry, similar to 2013, could be taking its last breaths if both the miller and the producer do not come to agreement soon and get the 2013/2014 crop started. As mentioned last night, representatives of the BSCFA met with the Deputy Prime Minister yesterday. Upon conclusion of the meeting we requested an interview from the hierarchy of the BSCFA but were informed that at the request of Chairman Leonardo Cano no comment would be made.

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