Tension tightens between Cane Farmer’s Association and Belize Sugar Industry Print E-mail
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Thursday, 03 August 2017 00:00

The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) and the Belize Sugar Industry (BSI) signed a commercial agreement in 2015 after much back and forth. At the time of that signing the BSCFA had splintered into three associations each individually signing with BSI. Through the contract, BSI and BSCFA entered into a cane purchase agreement that basically agrees that BSI accepts the cane from farmers of the BSCFA.

Since 2015 it has been relatively smooth sailing for the two organizations until this year when BSI came up with a plan to invest 22 million dollars into the production of higher value- value added sugars. This decision has come with some conditions which two of the three associations who deliver cane to BSI have agreed to but which BSCFA is having problems with. They are seeking to renegotiate the entire sugar purchase agreement and have been resisting signing on to the new proposals.

In a press release dated July 19, 2017, BSI declared that they are unable, under law, to accept cane from farmers who are not in a cane purchase agreement with the industry. “Therefore, if that agreement is terminated, BSI will not be able to accept cane from BSFCA farmers”.

In response the BSCFA responded declaring the release by BSI as “reckless” and a “serious intimidation and a great threat to the members of BSCFA.” In their defense, the Association believes that as a member of BSCFA, members automatically have a cane purchase agreement. Since the declaration, BSCFA has taken legal action to counteract the attempts of BSI to not accept their farmers’ cane.

Besides taking legal action, BSCFA claims to have explicitly informed BSI that they have no intention of terminating the contract. It is the firm belief of BSCFA that BSI is using its financial power to instill fear and anxiety into their farmers in an attempt to create disunity. They have since indicated to BSI that the best way to come to a resolution is to negotiate in good faith rather than imposition.

V.P. of International Relations, ASR/BSI, Mac Maclachlan, has gone on record to say that the industry is at a crucial juncture at this point in time where it “cannot go through upheaval and interruption.” BSI’s position is one where they are in dire need to adjust to the end of the preferential treatment of Belize sugar in the European market which will now have Belize competing with other large producers of sugar for its market share.