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Screen_Shot_2015-01-12_at_8.13.17_PMControversy continues to stir within the sugar industry as the negotiation between the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and BSI/ASR seems to have been permanently placed in the freezer. Today, while the BSCFA begun issuing checks to farmers and braces for an uncertain future; sugar cane farmers are also worried about their future in the industry. In the immediate future, farmers must brace for yet another loss in their investments as the crop has yet to start.

Amid the process for application for a Writ of Mandamus by Lucilo Teck and a handful of other interested parties, farmers face a difficult choice, and as most see it, the only one available given the delicacy of the situation in the sugar industry. Farmers have voted for officials of the BSCFA to not sign the agreement with BSI, but following the Press Conference by the Prime Minister there was a distinct shift in the farmers’ confidence in that vote.

Last week there was clear indication that branches under the BSCFA plan on signing the agreement with the company. Under the pressure, CTV-3 News understands that branch directors met with their membership to get a vote on how many farmers wish to sign. We have yet to confirm the outcome of these meetings in full but we do understand that an overwhelming majority under the directorship of Alfredo Ortega have voted to go ahead and sign the agreement. The reality though is that farmers are signing under protest since they maintain that the terms of the agreement are not in their best interest.

Alfredo Ortega- Chairman, BSCFA Orange Walk Branch

“Salió después de haber contado los números ay 149 que firmaron a favor y once que firmaron no. Pero quiero hacer algo bien claro, muchos están con la preocupación de que si lo que se marco va a crear un atraso eso no es para atrasar eso simplemente no es para negociar eso es simplemente para mostrarle a la compañía que lo estamos haciendo en base de cómo estamos arrinconados lo estamos haciendo bajo protesta pero eso no quiere decir que va a legar con la compañía va a depender lo que la mayoría de los branches traigan lo único que va a reflejar es que el branch de Orange Walk firmo a favor pero en base de protesta.”

According to the current Chairman of the BSCFA, Ezequiel Cansino, while some cane farmers have expressed interest in signing the agreement with BSI/ASR under the BSCFA, others are moving away from the association. And while many consider that cane farmers are signing the agreement under duress, Cansino thinks otherwise.

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

Up to now, we have Patchakan Branch that is positive. The Chairman advised me a little while ago that Patchakan is positively signing out from the B.S.C.F.A.  I don’t know the exact amount of farmers, but it is a total of one hundred and five thousand tons of production. And on the side of San Estevan, which is my branch, I can say that up to now we have half of the production of San Estevan which might go to sign apart from the B.S.C.F.A.  Automatically they would be resigning from the B.S.C.F.A., as soon as they sign for them to get into a new Association, reaping group or harvesting group apart from the B.S.C.F.A., they would be automatically resigning from the B.S.C.F.A. To my point of view and understanding, to what the cane farmers have been voicing, maybe that is the case. But I think that many cane farmers were willing to start the crop with this agreement since before, let’s say, in December when we presented the agreement.”

CTV-3 News understands that directors will meet tomorrow to further discuss the numbers of the survey. CTV-3 News has been reliably informed though that BSI will not be signing any agreement with any branch under the BSCFA unless they hold another general meeting in which they officially vote towards signing the agreement.

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