BELMOPAN, Tues. Feb. 9, 2021– Despite delayed harvesting this season due to heavy rains last month, Santander Sugar has been progressing towards a projected increase in sugar harvests and production. In 2021, Santander hopes to increase its sugar cane harvest to 750,000 metric tons, a 16% increase compared to 2020. Data for the 2021 harvest is indicating that as much as 75,000 metric tons of sugar will be produced, a marked 30% increase, along with an estimated 30,000 metric tons of molasses, and they expect to dispatch 37.5 million kilowatt hours to the national grid.
Santander’s C.F.O., David Rodriguez, said, “Forty-five percent of our cane comes from independent cane growers and landowners that lease to the sugar mill here.”
Despite not having an established facility in place yet for these landowners, Rodriguez shared that the Santander company “helps [their] growers internally in a way that gives them better conditions to plant, or give seeds to some of them. We have also financed some of the planting over a five-year period, so they can get into the crop. We are sharing all the technology, the knowledge, and in some cases, we go and make a service to them and finance them for the first five years of the crop, so they can establish and start producing some yields and have some profitability starting from the first year or their foundation.”
The increased production rates will require upgrades to, or replacement of, current machinery, and Rodriguez makes mention of expanding the molasses tank that is currently in place, and installing a second one. He said, “We are going to expand, later this year, the sugar warehouse into the north part of what we currently have.”
This expansion is necessary for Santander. Rodriguez noted, “Last year was a mess when we were loading. Our loading capacity is approximately 4,500 metric tons per day. We are very excited to increase our capacity.”
With the increase of production, Santander is currently seeking to compete on a larger scale and the company is hopeful that the deepening of the port would make this possible.
“I spoke to the terminal that [they] would allow larger vessels to come and take sugar. That is going to improve yields and price conditions for our country. This is possible because the owners of the Big Creek Port have invested a considerable amount of money to make the port deeper. So larger vessels can come and we can compete in the world market with better prices for vessels that can come here to [export],” CFO Rodriguez said.