By William Ysaguirre
The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) is optimistic that they may sign a new cane purchase agreement with the sugar mill before the present interim arrangement expires, BSCFA Chief Executive Officer Oscar Alonzo told The Reporter this week.
Alonzo explained that the association has been negotiating a new sugar cane purchase agreement with the ASR Group and Belize Sugar Industries Ltd (ASR/BSI) for the 2022-23 harvest.
BSCFA representatives had presented counter proposals to ASR’s first proposed draft for a new agreement when they met with ASR/BSI officials three weeks ago. They have since received BSI’s response, and are scheduled to meet with them soon to respond to ASR’s new suggestions.
The farmers have had testy relations with the company dating back to their 2013 negotiations for payment for the bagasse used by BELCOGEN to produce electricity, and the cane purchase agreement signed in 2014, which included a small payment for bagasse.
The BSCFA has suggested that ASR/BSI has not been entirely forthcoming with their financial reports, especially as it pertains to the breakdown for the calculations for the net strip value.
Fundamentally, BSCFA questions the formula by which ASR/BSI calculates the net value of the sugar. The BSCFA has queried ASR/BSI’s accounting of the sale of the sugar, with many line items for shipping and handling charges, and has requested documentary evidence to support ASR/BSI’s numbers.