Tomorrow the long awaited start to the 2014 Sugar Cane Crop season should go into full effect as the Belize Sugar Industries Limited will open it gates to farmers from 10:00 in the morning. This will happen while cane farmers are still struggling to take out their product from the cane fields due to the extremely bad conditions of the sugar roads. While the Ministry of Works is presently carrying out works on the sugar roads, it will be quite some time before all roads are brought up to driving standards to say the least. These and other economic concerns were brought up yesterday at the House of Representatives by Orange Walk South Area Representative, Jose Abelardo Mai. But Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega lashed back saying that despite the challenges with the road and weather, the sugar crop season will commence, come rain or shine.
Jose Mai, Orange Walk South Area Representative
“I heard a statement that fifty percent of the sugar roads would be completed by Friday. Well that is far from being realistic Mister Speaker. I was in the area yesterday, in my constituency—which is the second largest sugar cane producing branch—and it is far from the truth. There is no doubt in my mind that the Ministry of Works is trying to do its best, but I think that there are things that still can be done. Mister Speaker, the rate of repair must be accelerated. The sugar industry cannot afford further delay and I will tell you why. Mister Speaker, we have a hundred and twenty day crop to deliver one point two million tonnes of sugar cane this year. This is the largest crop since the project of BELCOGEN came in; in 2009-2010, we had similar one point three million tonnes. Today the farmers have one point two million tonnes. The milling capacity of seven thousand five hundred a day, definitely there will be cane left out this year.”
Gaspar Vega, Deputy Prime Minister
“I sincerely believe that the representative from Orange Walk South feels beaten to the punch because we are having a sugar crop. Sincerely I can still remember the words that the representative from Corozal South West mentioned when he said if I have to encourage my people to go out there and strike and ensure that there is no crop; that is why they feel so bad today. But Mister Speaker, I would like to tell you that the way this thing was program was with the directors of all the different sugar branch. I don’t think that the representative from Orange Walk South expected that from this administration, but we are showing him that we are transparent and that all we want is the betterment of the industry. We take no sides for no one; we want a better industry. We contracted the roads with the advice of all the directors of the sugar branches. They were the ones who decided which sugar roads to be repaired and we had asked them that there is a limited amount of contractors and to ensure to work on the roads that can be worked on because as we speak, Mister Speaker, there are still sugar roads that are under water as we speak. How are we going to fix those roads?”
Meanwhile, as it is, the Sugar Cane Season has been delayed for two months and millions of dollars is lost, on average, for every week the delay extends.
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