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There is still no clear path forward in the negotiations between BSI/ASR and the BSCFA and the new crop is still on hold. Stakeholders had identified today, December 8th as the ideal time to start but following long hours of discussions, there is still no clear indication when the crop will start. Furthermore, even though the BSCFA has proven to be flexible on their demands, the BSI keeps firm. Today, when the Prime Minister Dean Barrow should have been in Havana Cuba for the CARICOM Summit, he was in Belize City meeting with the BSCFA representatives trying to find a way forward as time is now of utmost importance as delays in starting the new crop spells economic loss for all. After less than two hours of meeting, it seems there is still not much achieved as the BSCFA still has to wait for the PM to go to the BSI/ASR group for a response to their latest terms.

Dalila Ical- Reporting

Ezekiel Cansino, Chairman, Committee of Management, B.S.C.F.A.

“We believe that it’s more flexible and that’s why we as cane-farmers believe that we are going too far being flexible. We are trying our best to get to an agreement. We hope that at this time we get through the impasse and if not, we will be seeking other options.”

And those options may not be too favorable for the industry but where the negotiations with BSI stand, the BSCFA seems to be ready to play their last cards in a process that has spread too thin.

BSCFA had dropped two of their demands and still, late Friday last week, BSI rejected this issuing a modified proposal. In an effort to end the impasse, an urgent meeting was held with the Prime Minister this morning to further negotiate on the three points, the key being the revenue sharing for bagasse.

Ezekiel Cansino, Chairman, Committee of Management, B.S.C.F.A.

“We presented to the Prime Minister a proposal as to where we are willing to accept the fifty-one cents for at least three years, but this time we want them to give us their accounts to see if they are making some profit, because they are claiming that they are experiencing only losses and no profits, but we want to see if they are doing some profits so that we can at least negotiate some increment on the fifty-one cents.”

But there is no real commitment from government to close the deal except that the PM will be going back to the company officials with the new terms proposed by the association.

Screen_Shot_2014-12-08_at_7.54.21_PMHonorable Dean Barrow- Prime Minister of Belize

“I think that the farmers are showing a great deal of flexibility and I believe that we are in a position where we can get this thing done.”


"Are you a little bit disappointed in the position taken by BSI/ASR at this point to still be holding out so to speak?"

Honorable Dean Barrow- Prime Minister of Belize

"Well I would be if after I meet with them there is no agreement."

And with the continuous delays in closing the negotiations, the crop season is once again being delayed, an unfortunate circumstance for all stakeholders.

Honorable Dean Barrow- Prime Minister of Belize

“Clearly it is important because we need the crop to start. Without the crop clearly the entire economy of the north will be terribly affected…lots of farmers who owe money to the banks will face the pain of foreclosure. It’s just unthinkable that we shouldn’t have a crop. I had already indicated that if it appeared necessary I would come back. And over the weekend I spoke to the Deputy Prime Minister and made the changes. The idea is again just to get clear from the farmers precisely what their position is, and thereafter to take that to B.S.I./A.S.R. in an effort to bridge the remaining gaps. I don’t think those remaining gaps are huge. I think they are bridgeable. And so I will be making every effort to get A.S.R. and the B.S.C.F.A. to finally agree.”

But what happens if BSI does not budge? Farmers say they may have to resort to more drastic measures, which they have also made clear to the Prime Minister.

Ezekiel Cansino, Chairman, Committee of Management, B.S.C.F.A.

“He is well aware about that. And I don’t know if he was kidding but he said that in that case he would be willing to join us on that protest if that is the solution for us to get into an agreement.”

Honorable Dean Barrow- Prime Minister of Belize

“I believe there is the possibility….there is room within which to maneuver.”

Once again the BSCFA has been placed in the waiting room as the PM is set to meet with BSI on the new proposals and return with a response.

The hope is to start the crop before Christmas. According to the Prime Minister however, he is not expecting a response from BSI before next week.

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