Screen_Shot_2013-11-25_at_8.24.32_PMThe Belize Sugar Industries and majority holder American Sugar Refinery (ASR) this morning held a press conference in Belize City to present the company’s position on the current dispute with the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association (BSCFA) as it relates to the claim for payment for bagasse. Our news team was on hand to capture the event and filed the following report.

Maria Novelo – Reporting

The proclaimed payment for bagasse by the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, which has been making headlines around the country, was the focal point of dialogue in the Belize Sugar Industries press conference this morning in Belize City. While there is still an impasse on the bagasse negotiations, BSI’s position remains the same from the onset and finds that the best way to determine the BSCFA’s dispute is to take the matter to the Supreme Court.


Arsenio Burgos – Chairman, Board of Directors, BSI

“The relationship between BSI and the BSCFA are governed by law. The farmers sell the sugar cane to BSI, the sugar, the water, mud and all. The sugar cane is then the property and responsibility of BSI. It is BSI’s burden to store and dispose of the waste including the bagasse.”

The claim for payment for the bagasse because of electricity sales is to provide a return investment.  To date BELCOGEN has incurred accumulative operating loss, BSI has repeatedly stated to the BSCFA that since there is a fundamental disagreement between the parties then the proper place to determine the dispute is in the courts.”


Ricardo Lima– Vice President, ASR

“The way this is going to work and the way the farmers can help themselves and BSCFA can help the farmers and the membership is to sit down with us in an amicable professional way, understand, prioritize issues and problems and then we go out and fix them, there is nothing that cannot be corrected if we all come in plan and then we move forward in a proper way, we need to look at this and I would hope that BSCFA will look at this in a constructive way.”


Joey Montalvo– CEO, BSI

“What we have offered more recently and which is what Mr. Lima mentioned there is the meeting that didn’t occurred on the 19th and also he mentioned and I will confirm that yesterday we had a call from the Deputy Prime Minister who requested on behalf of the farmers for another meeting to discuss the bagasse issue, our position was the same as it was on the 19th when we said that we would be ready to meet with them to discuss the bagasse issue without prejudice which is normal practice where the parties that have a dispute meet to see whether it can be resolve and if it can’t be resolve how the issue would be addressed if no agreement is reached and hence the discussion about taking the matter is commercial dispute to the courts of law.”

And while the relations between BSI and the BSCFA and its members are governed by law, BSI says that the price at which the sugar cane is purchased is subject of a commercial agreement where the gross realized proceeds is determined by all sugar and final molasses. BSI maintains that the bagasse in question is not a by-product of cane, but waste and finds the proclamations from BSCFA to be unreasonable.

Ricardo Lima– Vice President, ASR

“I have not seen in this part of the continent that bagasse is paid on its own, bagasse is considered a residue if you look at the literature of sugarcane manufacturers is a residue, bagasse is a waste which comes out of a result of a milling process. (2) The reason we have Belcogen producing electricity and sales it to BEL is because BSI made a decision a few years ago to spent US65 millions dollar in building a co-generation plant that would allowed them to have efficient boilers to be able to generate the maximum amount of electricity with the bagasse in BSI and we go back to the industry if I may also cause this is cane.  Cane is compose as the chairman mentioned of several components; a lot of water, some fiber, strenuous matter, a little bit of sugar and the mill want the cane delivered at the gate and purchase it, the mill takes responsibility for the processing of that cane, that is the standard practice throughout the industry, throughout the world Asia, Africa, South America, Central America, North America.  The bagasse is not a product it is a residue as a matter of fact in a lot of countries is as in Belize with high fiber content bagasse came a disposal a problem.”

With this in mind, BSI proposes to move forward and claims that delaying the crop season will not only hurt the farmers but impact the entire country, negatively.

Arsenio Burgos – Chairman, Board of Directors, BSI

“We see a robust future for the industry in Belize provided that business between stakeholders is conducted in good faith and in a professional manner; the issues we need to focus on are increasing productivity at both the field and the mill which is what we are doing.”

Ricardo Lima– Vice President, ASR

“If crop is delayed or there is not crop the prize is huge for many, many people there is 35,000 Belizean that are dependent on this industry and more than a region and that is 12% of the Belizean population, it is a huge impact.  The delay crop will also send a message to our customer in Europe basically that neither BSI nor Belize is a very reliable source of sugar supply.  Sugar is sold on future deliveries and if deliveries are not met then customers will very, very upset and that has a price it will impact the farmers ultimately.”

Belizario Carballo- Financial Director, BSI

“The cane is perishable crops as all crops and therefore there is cane on the ground that is ready for harvest and therefore delaying the crop will affect in particular those farmers because not all farmers are ready to start the crop, not all farmers are equally affected but those farmers who are ready who have cane ready to start the crop and have mature cane that is ready for deliveries those are the farmers who will particularly be hurt by any unnecessary delay of the crop.”

And while there are a few debatable items in the added appendage of the signed Purchase Agreement, in the end, if that avenue is explored by both parties, the courts will have the final say on the matter.

BSI says that the ASR Group has invested over 190 Million dollars in Belize to date and says contrary to BSCFA’s statements, ASR has not taken a single dollar out of Belize as dividends. ASR Representative Ricardo Lima said that the investments made has benefitted and will continue to benefit the cane farmers.

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