Cane Farmers say no to BSI proposal Print E-mail
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Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00

The sugar cane farmers from the north have rejected the offer from Belize Sugar Industries Limited for a reasonable bagasse payment. BSI continues to believe that 51 cents is fair and equitable, but farmers want much more.

That decision got an overwhelming support during their annual general membership meeting on Sunday, July 20. After the negotiating team from the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association presented the BSI model, farmers were invited to make comments to their 909 other peers. Those who took the microphone had only negative comments against the company, claiming that the factory owners are taking advantage of the small farmer.

When the motion was put to the floor to give the negotiating team more time to convince the factory owners for a higher payment, it got the support from the entire congregation. That is now the decision of the farmers. Their negotiators must now try to keep bargaining with BSI in hopes of getting a bigger payment for bagasse.

But the factory owners have already explained why 51 cents is the best offer that they can make. That represents a total of $550,000 in additional cost to BELCOGEN, which hasn’t been making a profit as yet to recoup the 130 million dollar investment in equipment to process bagasse. The farmers now want something in the vicinity of $8 to $10 per tonne of sugar cane delivered. If BELCOGEN is already maxed out at $550,000 (for a payment of 51 cents per tonne), how will the company afford 8.6 million dollars (for a payment of $8 per tonne)?

For BELCOGEN to operate at maximum capacity to meet its energy quota to the national grid, it needs 1.270 million tonnes of cane delivered from the farmers, but the final count this year was only 1.214 million tonnes. So, the quantity of cane isn’t enough to make profits, but still the farmers want such a big commitment from the company.