Screen_Shot_2014-10-03_at_6.53.17_PMThe Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association continues to take measure in ensuring the Fairtrade suspension is lifted. Today representatives of the BSCFA and other stakeholders in the industry took part in a training that focused on child labor, one of the most significant non-compliance found by FLOCERT in their audit conducted earlier this year. At that time the BSCFA was found with eight non-compliances and consequently was suspended. Today’s training centered on child labor as several children were found harvesting cane during the crop season and this was deemed hazardous work for them due to the tools used. CEO Oscar Alonzo explains.

Oscar Alonzo – CEO, BSCFA

“We had delivered some corrective measures to FLOCERT on how we are going to deal with this issue of child labor in the sugar industry and one of the major things is that all the requirements that Fair Trade has relating to child labor is based on the ILO conventions which has been ratified by the government of Belize, now these conventions is incorporated as part of the laws of Belize so a greater awareness for our farmers of what these requirements are will enable us to try to avoid or try to prohibit and or eliminate child labor.”

Alfredo Ortega – CEO, BSCFA

“We cannot say we will eliminate completely but we are working forward into seeing that on the future we can have less children working in hazardous work and this is what we are doing in point in time and we are trying to engage with the different government departments and the NGO’s so that we can build up some programs that will have our youths in different trainings that will lessen the situation in hazardous work in farm level.”

Alonzo adds that they have also made good progress in relation to the other seven non-compliances.

Oscar Alonzo – CEO, BSCFA

“We have already submitted the corrective measures and the others, we have been implementing those measures some have to deal with financial administrative procedures and other have to do with measures that are being implemented in terms of the environment and so on, however this one is of major concern because it is a very complex issue, we know that child labor is an issue all over the world, there is no country that is free of this problem but as long as we show that we are trying to deal with this problem effectively and minimizing the situation we will be complying with the Standards of Fair Trade, we cannot guarantee 100% that there is no child labor but at least we will be advancing in terms of showing improvements, through awareness, through compliance, through voluntary commitments, through the involvements of the people themselves in this issue in helping to have the community be involve together with the cane farmers to ensure that children are allowed to stay in school and they are not make to do work that is hazardous to them, children that are not made to work because of certain issue of poverty and because of the need and that we are trying to identify alternative programs, alternative projects that would assist these young people.”

The BSCFA has four months to take necessary measurement before another audit. Alonzo says he is confident that their work so far will lead to a better result when that time comes.

Oscar Alonzo – CEO, BSCFA

“We have begun implemented, once we have indicated to Fair Trade that we have been implementing these measures sometime after December or early January we expect a further audit from FLOCERT, we have already paid for this audit and we look forward to receiving them the latest tin January for them to come and review what they have done and then hope to have the suspension lifted, we are confident that what we are doing right now will certainly be leading to the uplifting up of the suspension.”

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