BELIZE CITY, Tues. Dec. 9, 2015–According to American Sugar Refinery/Belize Sugar Industries Limited (ASR/BSI), cane farmers will be receiving $1.32 increase on their first payment as a result of Government’s decision to increase the cost of white sugar by 25 cents, bringing the cost for 1 pound of sugar to 75 cents.
ASR/BSI issued a press release which showed an increase in the first payment to cane farmers from $35.33 to $36.65 for the 2015/2016 sugar crop season.
Now with the new price increase, things are certainly looking a little better for the cane farmers. Also, the ASR/BSI now has a new truck dumper, which will increase the efficiency of processing the cane, said Shawn Chavarria, ASR/BSI’s financial controller.
Chavarria explained that, “The original truck dumper, which handles roughly 60% of the cane, which used the method of hooking trucks from the trailers using the cranes to unload, was quite inefficient and time consuming.” The new truck dumper will improve the turnaround time for cane trucks to be off-loaded, completing the process in approximately 1 minute, Chavarria said.
“The new truck will provide for more efficiency and more deliveries will be able to be made,” he said, adding that it is the Sugar Cane Production Committee that set the quota of cane to be delivered and they may have to revise the quota as a result of the increase in efficiency.
Monday, December 7, marked the opening of the sugar crop season and ASR/BSI is expected to mill approximately 7,000 tons per day. Presently, there is approximately 1.7 million tons of cane in the fields waiting to be milled, but ASR/BSI can only mill 1.2 million tons of cane, Chavarria said.
According to Chavarria it will cost BZE $200 million to expand the mill, and to make such a big investment, there needs to be commitment to the process from all stakeholders, including the three sugar cane farmers associations, and the government. This means that farmers will need to make improvements to their harvesting and delivery of the cane so that they are able to cut costs.
Various groups are looking at different ways in which costs can be lowered so that the industry can expand and be competitive in the marketplace, Chavarria said.
Chavarria added that a strategic development plan is being carried out to determine the future of the industry, how it will progress, and what role each stakeholder will play. For their part, ASR/BSI would like to expand the mill; however, with such a move, because of the big risk, the industry needs to have a clear vision of how they will deal with the challenges.