Highlights — 03 January 2014 — by Kareem Clarke

The sugar industry crisis—which came to a head in late 2013 with deadlock between cane farmers and the Belize Sugar Industries—will no doubt spill over into 2014. The impasse has emerged due to an ongoing dispute surrounding the payment for bagasse, a byproduct of sugar cane.

Belize’s local sugar producer, Belize Sugar Industries (BSI), utilizes bagasse to generate electricity, which it sells to Belize Electricity Limited; and this practice has led to a protracted feud between the stakeholders of the vital sugar industry because the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), and by extension, the local cane farmers want to be paid for the bagasse.

For over the last two months, the farmers and BSI – specifically its parent company American Sugar Refineries (ASR) – have been at loggerheads concerning a negotiated payment for the bagasse; while the 2014 sugar cane crop season has now been delayed for an entire month, in part due to this issue.

The most recent meeting between the opposing parties took place on Monday, December 23, 2013, at the BSI Staff Club in Orange Walk Town, where both parties met for the first time in three months. However, after around three hours of deliberations, no middle ground was reached; therefore, the stalemate continues and the fate of the next sugar crop season is still uncertain.

Today, Amandala tried to get in contact with Belizario Carballo, BSI’s Financial Controller, and also a member of the BSI/ASR’s negotiating team, to get the latest update on the situation, and to find out how BSI is coping with the delayed crop season; however, we were told that he won’t be in office until next Monday.

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