truckYesterday the 2015/2016 crop season was officially declared open by BSI/ASR. The season saw a slow start mainly due to the weather and the conditions of the sugar roads. While that is of concern there is also the worry that the last survey conducted reveled an estimated production of 1.7 million tons of cane on the fields. That is more than the 1.3 million tons that the factory can mill.


This means that there is high probability that cane will once again remain on the fields at the end of the crop. And this is after cane farmers were asked to increase productivity.


So, while there is cane, the factory is not equipped to mill it and this is one of the biggest concern the industry faces.

 

Gabriel Martinez- Chairman, SICB


“As rightly mentioned farmers have done their part plant it and they have taken advice and they have done what they were told to do to plant more cane and now we are faced with the issue of milling capacity, it is a big concern and I must say that the discussion that we have been having so early I must say are gearing to include the strategic development plan which has involvement of the government, the sugar cane farming associations.”


In 2017 the price of sugar in the preferential market is also expected to reduce. This represents another challenge for cane farmers who are already facing a low first price estimate per ton of cane. But it is one challenge that all stakeholders should have prepared for says Chairman of the Sugar Cane Production Committee, Jose Novelo.


Jose Novelo- Chairman, SCPC


“I think that we still have to work together to determine how we go with the new strategic development plan, the fact of the matter is that we all knew the prices were going down stakeholders were aware that it was going down when we first announce it, what happened is that the prices in the EU did went down but the world prices for sugar went up so prices to large extent increase rather than decrease but this had been on the table for quite a while in fact for three years ago we alerted the farmers once more that this could happen and all the while we have been working on how we develop the competitiveness of this industry both at the milling production and in regulatory framework to see what we can do to assist with the competitiveness of this industry.”


In order for the Strategic Plan to come into effect, or better yet for it to work, all stakeholders must be on the same path.


Jose Novelo- Chairman, SCPC


“Remember that what is most important here is that we are discussing we are negotiating the viability of the sugar industry where the majority of the stakeholders have to agree on how we move forward so it is not a plan that will be favoring any one party over the other it is an industry that we have collectively; the government of Belize, the miller and the producers have collectively agreed that it is an industry that we want to maintain.”


Challenges facing the Sugar Industry include field productivity and improvement of delivery.

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