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Sugar crop delayed in Belize

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Sugar crop delayed in Belize

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BELMOPAN, Belize (CMC) – An impasse over a share of the profits from the sale of bagasse is preventing the start of the 2013-14 sugar cane season in Belize.
The Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) are at odds over the profit sharing scheme with the farmers demanding a greater say on how the profits should be shared.
Vice-chairman of the BSCFA Committee of Management, Alfredo Ortega said the farmers have already made a plea to the government urging that it intervene in the matter.
Ortega said the farmers want the BSI to come “to the table” to discuss the matter.
“We remain on our fight that we would go to the table to negotiate once it is for the bagasse and the new agreement,” he added.
Agriculture Minister Gaspar Vega said that the cane farmers have been consistent in their positions and that “they will not start a crop unless they finalize some agreement regarding the bagasse.
“My plea to them is to go back to the table,” he said, indicating that he intends to meet with the other stakeholders “to see what kind of compromise they can reach”.
Vega said he wished he was in a position to tell the other party to pay the cane farmers or even to get the farmers to start cutting cane and start the new season.
“We cannot do either one. All we are hoping and asking them is to stay sober and whatever decision they take is to be mature on their decision. They have committed that definitely whatever decision they make, if they decide that they will not deliver cane, they are not asking for demonstration, they are not asking for confrontation.
“The cane farmers are going to stay in their homes and that is how they will show their dissatisfaction. And if that be the case, well we have to commend them for that. Definitely I don’t think there is a Belizean in this country that would like to relive what we lived three, four years ago with the crisis,” Vega said.
He said with both parties standing firm on their respective positions, the government is hoping that at the “end of the day, once they stay sober, mature, a compromise will be reached”.