ORANGE WALK TOWN, Wed. Mar. 18, 2015–Cañeros from the three cane farmers associations are scheduled to collect pending bagasse payments for the 2013/2014 sugarcane crop season later this week.
The payout comes as part of a new commercial cane purchasing agreement that was signed prior to the belated start of this year’s crop season, which was delayed due to a protracted dispute – partially over a quantum payment for bagasse – between factory owners Belize Sugar Industries (BSI)/American Sugar Refineries (ASR) and a faction of the 55-year-old Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA).
Now that those differences have been put aside and the 2014-2015 sugarcane harvesting season is underway, BSI’s Chief Financial Officer, Belizario Carballo, told the media today that the monies for the outstanding bagasse payments for last season should be paid by this Friday, March 20.
He said, “As part of the agreement that we signed with the cane farmers associations [in January], there was provision for the payment of bagasse. Actually, that agreement provides for retroactive payments for the 2014 crop, and it provided for it to be paid 10 weeks after the signing of that agreement.”
“Those ten weeks come up this week and so on Friday, we will be making that payment for bagasse for the 2014 crop. Going forward, it will be an annual payment that will be made to farmers. In addition to the regular payment [for sugar cane], there will also be that payment for bagasse. In total, it amounts to close to $595,000 – that is the quantum that will be paid based on a delivery of 1.2 million tons of cane [during the last crop season],” he went on to say.
Carballo explained that the average price works out to an equivalent of 50 cents per ton of cane – which is the price that was proposed by BSI/ASR – but because the payment is being based on the relative quality factors that are assessed for every crop, then the actual payments to the different test groups will vary between 47 to 54 cents per ton, but on average, it is roughly 50 cents per ton of cane.