BELIZE CITY, Wed., Dec. 2, 2015–Today, Jose Alpuche, Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture, confirmed to Amandala that a Statutory Instrument (SI) will be signed this week to increase the price of white sugar by 25 cents per pound; however, the increase will not affect brown sugar. This comes after the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association passed a resolution to increase the domestic price of sugar to $1.00 per pound at their Annual General Meeting, which was held on Sunday, November 22.
After the cane farmers had their general meeting, they met with the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Gaspar Vega, and it was agreed that instead of the $1.00 price they requested, the cane farmers will get a 25-cent price increase, bringing the price for one pound of sugar to 75 cents.
Alpuche said that the last time there was an increase in sugar prices was in 2001, and the increase of 25 cents will allow for the farmers to get a reasonable price on the cane. Alpuche added that the SI will not take effect until January 2016, and buyers should know that the current price is still 50 cents per pound.
Whether this price increase might affect other commodities, Alpuche couldn’t say for sure, but he pointed out that companies that make carbonated drinks are looking to see whether the increase will impact the price of their drinks.
Amandala readers will recall that the Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) held a two-day meeting on November 26 and 27 in Belize. This meeting was timely, as Belize, along with the rest of the Caribbean, was trying to cope with the new lower prices of sugar in the European market.
After the SAC’s meeting, a press release was issued, noting that the sugar industries of the Caribbean had supplied the regional market with 31,500 tons of sugar in 2014-2015, and that there were plans to increase that supply to 43,000 tons in 2015-2016.
The press release continued by stating that SAC members had made a commitment to supply the total amount of raw sugar/brown sugar for the Caribbean market.
According to the press release, Santander Group, a Guatemalan-owned sugar factory which is scheduled to start milling cane in Belize in February 2016, was present at the meeting as an observer. The press release further states that the SAC welcomed their investment in the regional sugar industry. It added that Santander Group has the capacity to produce 100,000 tons of sugar.
Amandala was told that our local cane industry/market will not be benefiting from the activities of the Santander Group, whose produce will be shipped overseas.
Also at the meeting, the West Indies Central Sugar Cane Breeding Station (WICSCBS), a research facility owned by SAC, reported that they had successfully completed an EU-funded ACP research project.
The release stated, “This project, implemented in Belize, Jamaica and Guyana will contribute to increased efficiency in agronomy trials, cane sampling and maturity testing.”