Photo: Fred Ortega, Chairman of the BSCFA
by Charles Gladden
ORANGE WALK, Wed. Mar. 22, 2023
According to a letter leaked to local media, Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) was indefinitely suspended by FLOCERT, which is one of the world’s leading social auditing and verification bodies and the global certifier for Fairtrade, after an audit in January of this year.
The leaked letter, which had been issued by FLOCERT to the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), stated that the company has been suspended and as a result is unable to sign Fairtrade contracts with new trading partners, nor can it advertise or make any reference to maintaining a valid Fairtrade certification. But while being suspended, BSI is still obligated to fulfill its ongoing commitments to contracts signed.
BSI addressed the matter in a statement that was released on Tuesday, March 21, and explained that the suspension was the result of four non-compliance issues that were identified, three of which were minor, while there was one major area of non-compliance, which, the company noted, came about as a result of a change in the classification of BSI in the FLOCERT system, which they allege that they were unaware of.
When questioned by local reporters, Fred Ortega, chairman of the BSCFA, said that the letter was not supposed to have been leaked to the media, and stated that he could not speak extensively on the allegation, as it is confidential. He did mention, however, that he was unaware of the suspension until the letter was issued, and said that he was not certain how the suspension would affect the BSCFA.
“At this point, I am unable to speak about it, because it is FLOCERT that is dealing with it. Only they know the corrective measures that they will be taken, because as I’ve said before we don’t know which points FLOCERT took to suspend them,” he said.
The suspension may be lifted soon, as BSI said in a statement that it has submitted its corrective measures for all of the non-compliance issues raised.