Whilst there has been some breakthrough in the negotiations for payment for Baggasse to farmers, tonight news is that the start of the Sugar Cane season will be pushed back a few more days. This is largely contributed to weather conditions and today, all three parties, BSI, BSCFA and GOB met to discuss a way forward to meet these challenges. Reporter Maria Novelo was there and filed this report.

Screen_Shot_2014-01-17_at_6.20.40_PMThe Sugar Cane Season will see a further four day delay due to the deplorable conditions of the sugar roads, a fact compounded by the inclement weather. As it is, only two of the 18 divisions of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association are ready to supply cane to the Sugar Factory. Financial Controller of BSI, Belizario Carballo Jr says farmers agreed to wait since there is much difficulty in getting cane to the mill.

Belizario Carballo – Financial Controller, BSI

“This week we have had some rain and so that has delayed further the programs for the sugar roads and so we decided that we will get together today, yesterday the ministry of works carried their assessment of the road conditions and today we met to get a report from the ministry of works engineers, it is a technical decision really and the assessment is like I said the works are just getting underway, weather has not permitted much yet but there is a good feel that we can allow those works to continue for another few days each day that passes works is being advance to complete the whole project that is planned to require about two weeks, they estimate that it would need two weeks that they would be able to have 80 to 90% complete in terms of what they plan to do, in terms of sugar roads.”

Whilst time is of the essence, as millions of dollars have already been lost, the Government of Belize is doing all it can to repair the roads with a sense of urgency says DPM Gaspar Vega.

Honorable Gaspar Vega- Deputy Prime Minister

“One of the conditions to the contractors is that they cannot have weekends they have to work right through because of the urgency of time for the cane farmers and for the industry, not only for the cane farmers, BSI also and they have accepted unfortunately there is so much we can do simultaneously because we don’t have a contractor for each branch and they have realize that and like I mention to them we have to work as a team, and if one branch have the contractor there and the road is terrible and even if they fix the sugar roads they can’t get into the fields well give the opportunity to another director they have to work as a team.”

And once milling commences, BSI is not expecting another setback, so working out the kinks is of paramount importance.

Belizario Carballo – Financial Controller, BSI

“We wouldn’t want the crop to start under these difficult road conditions and for there to be three, four days of supply and then there is a need to start to slow down because it will put us in a very difficult situation and if we cannot receive a very minimum 5000 tons of cane per day.”

According to Chairman of the BSCFA, Committee of Management Alfredo Ortega, all parties have agreed that postponing the crop season for a few days is the best move.

Alfredo Ortega – Vice Chairman BSCFA

“What the engineer reported is that based on the assessment that he did yesterday, that only 12% on works has been done of repairs has been done in the Orange Walk District and 2% in Corozal so that puts a difficult situation whereby the farmers will be unable to transport cane from the field to the factory because of the situation  of the sugar roads, based on that and the situation is that works has been started a little bit over a week ago so the other thing that we take into account was that if crop should have started on Monday that would delay more the process of those contractors working on the roads because then farmer would try to see and try to harvest and then will create a bigger burden on the situation of the sugar roads so based on those situations we both decided to drawback a little bit until the t24th so that it would give a more space on time for the contractors to do more works on the sugar road.”

Vice Chair Alfredo Ortega says chemists have made their rounds at the sugar fields to check up on cane quality which reveals that due to the variety of sugar cane, some are in optimum quality whilst others are growing prematurely. And notwithstanding the weather conditions, farmers have been advised on how to manage their cane fields.

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