The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association officials continue to make calculations and projections into its survival following the decision to grant cane farmers the disbursement of four million dollars. The consequences as explained by the officials are severe and can even mean the collapse of the association on a whole. One of the biggest concerns for the leaders is the Association’s standing with Fairtrade following the disbursement of the money.  As is, the general assembly voted to dissolve all projects that had been approved and financed with a large part of the money. According to Chair of the Committee of Management, Ezequiel Cansino, the association is still going to push for one of the key projects on child labor. Cansino says they are making every effort to getting the project off the ground and want to carry through with it in its entirety since this was one of the biggest noncompliance that had propelled the Association into a suspension by Fairtrade last year.


Screen_Shot_2015-01-07_at_8.27.40_PMEzequiel Cansino – Chairman of the committee of Management


Eso nos va afectar no solo como miembros de Fair Trade si no como productores de caña de azúcar, sabemos que el internacional condena lo que es el Child Labour y tengamos o no tengamos Fair Trade tenemos como mitigar como resolver ese problema en esta industria.”


As mentioned before, the Association officials fear that the disbursement of the four million dollars will bring another suspension or worse, a decertification from Fairtrade. Today, the Program Coordinator for the Fairtrade International Support in Central America, Kieran Durnien wrote to the BSCFA. Durnien reiterated that the decision to share money with farmers is a clear violation of the use of the Fairtrade premiums and which were duly allocated to projects in the last Annual General Meeting held on November 30th of 2014. The official confirmed the association’s fears which are that the move will result in another suspension following the next audit. It could also result in the decertification of the association since this is the second time that the association is mismanaging the funds, Durnien added. He continues by saying that the decision by leaders to follow through with disbursing the funds can be interpreted as the Association no longer considering the Fairtrade certification as a strategic element in the continued development of the association and farmers in the sustainability of the sugar industry. Durnien refrained from classifying whether the decision by the Association leaders is right or wrong but rather that from a technical, managerial, and governance point of view he urges everyone to consider the consequences of the decision.


Given the possibilities, we asked Cansino whether he believes the association will survive without Fairtrade premiums.


Ezequiel Cansino – Chairman of the committee of Management


“Va sobrevivir pero no sabemos hasta donde va a poder aguantar, por el lado de Orange Walk como lo explicaron y por el lado de Corozal tenemos un problema que ellos están económicamente están más bajo que el lado de Orange Walk y nosotros tenemos más probabilidades de volver a crecer por sí mismo por medio de que nosotros tenemos más de 1 millón de dólares que está dando vuelta en insumos y aparte de lo que va a entrar de lo que es el SES cuando empiece la entrega de la caña es que Orange Walk división está más en una mejor position económicamente que la división de Corozal.”


In a worst case scenario, Cansino says that farmers will inevitably have to go back to the drawing board.


Ezequiel Cansino – Chairman of the committee of Management


“Esperemos que no suceda lo peor pero yo creo que el canero tendría que buscar como volver a organizarse si no con la BSCFA tal vez ellos tendrán que organizarse por sí mismos para ver de cómo mantenerse unidos y seguir adelante.”

 

Monies, so far as has been announced, will start to be disbursed on Friday this week.

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