After close to two months of delay, the 2014/2015 crop season is just days away from opening. Testament to that statement is the fact that the Sugar Cane Production Committee met today to commence planning for the upcoming crop. This year, for the first time in the history of the Sugar Industry, the SCPC will be working with more than one association of cane farmers. There were no major decisions taken in today’s meeting but all stakeholders present discussed the cane quality program that the SCPC seeks to implement this crop.
Jose Novelo – Chair
“When I refer to the cane quality program I am referring to the coordination of the harvesting in the fields to the delivery of the cane to Tower Hill and f course this has to do with the testing of all the groups that will be delivering the cane to BS, obviously now because there is more Associations and there are individual producers we have to make sure that all understand what is the cane quality program will be for this crop.”
As we have mentioned, this year the SCPC will be working with at least three different associations and individual farmers, which were properly represented today by various executives and group leaders. In the preparation process, the SCPC is still finalizing the final numbers to determine what tonnage of sugar cane is being managed by each group.
“What we are anticipating will happen is that the Corozal producers will have their test groups, the progressive Associations will have theirs and the Association will have their test group as well and of course the individual farmers which is basically CGB & Research both belonging to BSI and so it is really how we organize all these test groups to ensure that we have a smooth flow of cane into the factory, as it is right now we cannot afford to make too many changes because the time is too short so we are practically carrying over all those practices that we had during the last three or four crops into this crop.”
Dalila Ical – Reporter
“So do you expect to make all necessary changes that need to be made for the following crop?”
“What I can state right now is that by tomorrow we will be finalizing all the logistics require for the 2014/2015 season and thereafter then based on the experience that we will have this year working with the different associations then we will be ticking here and there to ensure that the program can be improved.”
The SCPC expects to confirm a final count by tomorrow evening. And while the crop sees a late start once again, farmers have expressed concern over loss. The SCPC though, is not necessarily concerned over cane quality as they are about quantity.
“It’s more indeed the quantity of the cane that is at stake and I believe that the quality is not necessarily in jeopardy but the fact remain that we had predicted that for this year we are going to about 1.45 million tons of cane with the late start, we are not sure whether the factory would be able to take that amount of cane, let say for instance it can only take 1.1 million then very likely the difference will be staying in the field and so that also is a parameter that we have to take into consideration to then determine how to assign the various quantities of cane that each group can deliver.”
And so the process has begun and farmers are coming to the table to finally trigger the start of the 2014/2015 sugar crop. But while the chaos within the industry seems to simmer down, a few tensions may still persist yet. We asked Chairman of the SCPC Jose Novelo what the atmosphere among the new and old players in the industry was like in today’s meeting.
“There is a will to move ahead this industry everybody recognizes that we are behind time and unless there is coordination and there is interest from all to succeed that we won’t be able to move ahead so there is a common purpose and that is why we introduce the quality program, that is the SCPC introduced the quality program for everybody to be on board and to come on board and we practically have very little resistance to what we are recommending for this crop, repeating, I sense that everybody is onboard and we have very few differences which I respect to the different associations now in the system if we can call it that way. We are looking forward for everybody to join and to form test group to be in conformity to what we are looking or minimum of 50,000 tons and now everybody is getting excited that the crop will finally start.”
Tomorrow SICB is scheduled to meet. While no date has been finalized for the start of crop, officials say they definitely hope to start by next week and are looking forward to having a successful crop.
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