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Screen_Shot_2014-07-31_at_7.59.27_PM2017 will prove to be a dreaded year for all sugar producing countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) that export sugar to the European Market. As a sugar producing country Belize will also be affected tremendously as cane farmers and the mill can lose millions of dollars if measures to improve the competitiveness of the industry are not taken that will allow the miller and the producer to operate successfully in such a liberalized market.


Bottom line is stakeholders must prepare for the future of the industry and with that in mind, one of the largest stakeholders of the industry, BSI/ASR, held its first Post-Crop Conference that saw the participation of over 350 persons including cane farmers, business men and women and members of government.

Mac McLachlan, International Advisor ASR Group

“This conference was really to have an open discussion about the last crop and about what is going to happen in the future there was some very interesting discussion about cane freshness and about all that can be improved, there was discussion about mechanical harvesting, there was discussion about a whole range of things but the main objective of all of this is to improve efficiency in the sugar industry, to improve efficiency we reduce the production cost of sugar which makes the sugar industry more competitive, obviously there were other discussion where we were asked about the expansion of the mill and I will explain that aspect, our aspiration remains to grown the industry here but we have to have the right economic investment climate and the right business climate with our main supplier of cane in order to consider what would be really quite investments of the future.”

In order for the production cost to be reduced so that the Sugar Industry can survive the 2017 price cut, the company presented an action plan for 2017 and beyond that consists of eight measures that the company feel must be implemented.

Mac McLachlan, International Advisor ASR Group

“We have wanted to have these types of exercises and event for a long time now to talk to caneros and caneras about how we will move forward together and as you know the discussion has been interrupted by the bagasse issue and we are consistently thinking of the future about what can happen and so as a constructive act we put forward eight potential action points, we called it an eight point plan which covers eight distinctive issues that we need to overcome and work together on in order to prepare the industry to 2017 and beyond.  What is going to happen in 2017 is that the traditional market for Belize sugar, just the European Union there are some changes going on with their regulations which will affect the pricing basically of sugar, what it means it that the beet sugar grown in Europe will no longer be restricted and the beet farmers can basically flood the market with beet sugar, Belize and other ACP countries that have free trade agreements and duty free access will continue to happen, they are going to have to improve their competitiveness.”

Forming part of the action plan is the creation of affordable and timely cane farmer’s credit facility the improvement of harvesting and delivery model.

Celestino Ruiz- Vice President ASR Group

“Hablando de carreteras, sugar road, drenajes queremos ayudar y ser parte del equipo de buscar fondos para eso tenemos el escoses con nosotros que nos busque fondos con los Europeos para mejorar el drenaje de todos los campos, para mejorar las carreteras que puedan transportar, que puedan mejorar la frescura de la caña porque es más fácil sacar la caña del campo si ponen todas esa cosas juntos podemos lograrlos.”

Expansion of sugar plant and better methods of exportation also form part of the action plan.

Celestino Ruiz- Vice President ASR Group

“Se nos olvida que producimos más azúcar, la tenemos que embarcar, la naturaleza en Belice no nos ayuda en esto, el calado no es muy profundo, los barcos que traemos no son los más grandes, nos son efectivos en ese tipo de costo eficientes, pero son cosas que tenemos que trabajar con el sector público y privado para ver si podemos entre ambos buscar una situación que nos baje los costos y más importante que nos suba la capacidad si no sube la capacidad de embarque estamos en una situación que no vamos a poder expandir. Nosotros estamos dispuestos a trabajar con ustedes con todos los participantes en esta industria, esto que queremos no hemos llegado a Belice para que BSI se quede en el tamaño el día en que llegamos, las inspiraciones siempre ácido para crecer pero tenemos todos estar en una situación mejor que la tenemos hoy para tomar ese brinco y la abertura que viene por adelante.”

The reform of the sugar act and sugar industry relations is also a must, say’s BSI/ASR.

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