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As cane farmers prepare to sign the seven years Commercial Agreement with BSI/ASR, there is the sense of feeling that they are making the wrong move, hence they are signing under protest, well at least those who plan to remain under the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association as there is already talk of the formation of two other associations who are currently seeking more membership, the Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association and the United Cane Farmers Association.

If the majority of cane farmers move away from the BSCFA, which has been in existence for more than 50 years, this could mean the demise of the association which is presently on life support. Already the BSCFA is under pressure with the disbursement of the four million dollars in Fair Trade funds.

Without the four million dollars they basically have no money to operate and already 16 employees working under Fair Trade projects have been let go. To make matters worse, the BSCFA now faces a suspension and even a possible de-certification from Fair Trade due to the disbursement of the fund.

To make the story short, the notion is that from the onset Governments plan was to break the association, basically divide and concur. But is that the intention? The Prime Minster has already stated it isn’t, but the P.U.P believes otherwise.

Screen_Shot_2015-01-12_at_8.13.47_PMHonorable Jose Abelardo Mai- Orange Walk South Area Rep.

“The People’s United Party after months of close observation and careful analysis of events leading to the current major crisis never before experience by our national sugar cane industry has concluded that it is the result of calculated political manipulation and willful collaboration between the government of Belize and the agents of American Sugar Refinance, the owners of now Belize Sugar Industries. As we speak farmers are presently in a state of disarray and confusion caused by no less by the treat issued by the Prime Minister on behalf of ASR that sugar cane would be accepted only from farmers and their alliance who were prepared to sign commercial agreements with the company, we see imprudence in what is no less of a concerted effort by the government of Belize to break the Sugar Cane Farmers Association since they have been unsuccessful in silencing it advocacy for cane farmers entitlement, the point we make it that there is no other cane farmer organizations out there with a very effective cane harvesting and delivery system I place as in the case of Belize Sugar Cane Farmers there is a mechanism in place, why fix it if it works, the intended replacement of the Sugar Cane Production Committee by an ASR control harvesting and delivery committee is no doubt link to their cane ownership and cane rejection control drive to deliver their poor quality sugar cane, the less reliance on small farmers the greater his efficiency of profit making by the company, this economic philosophy is the driver behind the actions of the government and the miller.”

And with millions of dollars of Petro Caribe funds being rolled out, the PUP says the Prime Minister should roll out four million dollars to assist cane farmers and at the end save the BSCFA if his intent was not to destroy the association in the first place.

Honorable Francis Fonseca- Leader of the Opposition

“They boast about Petro Caribe money what better use of Petro Caribe money than to help the cane farmer’s commandant Chavez would certainly approve of that. Certainly I think that is something that should be explored the government can and should step forward and examine that issue and see if in fact Petro Caribe monies can be made available to the farmers for that purpose.”

On the other side of the field the People’s United Party is being accused of trying to gain political mileage especially here in the north, where the impact of a delayed crop is mostly being felt. Today though, Party Leader Francis Fonseca dismissed that notion and defended his party’s position.

Honorable Francis Fonseca- Leader of the Opposition

“The reality is we have tried to stay away and people accuse us and they say well you are not doing anything and this one and we have taken that deliberately because we wanted to be a responsible opposition, we wanted to try to give every opportunity for the government to succeed in getting this to work out in a fair and reasonable manner to the cane farmers we support an agreement but that agreement must respect the value an role of the cane farmers in this industry not only today but tomorrow and into the future we can’t be forcing cane farmers to sign on to an agreement because we want them to get the crop started I want to solve this problem today but we are not thinking about the future, their future, their families future, the future of their communities that is why we feel so strongly and passionately about this issue and the representatives there we have absolutely no concern about the north when the net elections comes every single seat in the north will go blue.”

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