An intervention from Prime Minister John Briceño led the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) and Belize Sugar Industries Limited (BSI) and American Sugar Refineries (ASR) to agree to sign an interim agreement.
That agreement will last until April 30, 2022, and take effect on January 20, 2022, a day after the current commercial agreement expires.
A meeting held today by the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB), for which all directors were present, led to the feuding parties agreeing to a start date of the crop. Chairman of the Sugar Industry Control Board Marcos Osorio confirmed that the new sugar cane crop season will begin on Monday, December 27, 2021, at 10 a.m.
The decision was approved and ratified by the SICB and according to Osorio, the start date will be sent shortly to be gazetted through the Office of the Attorney General.
Osorio said, “During the meeting, there were communications with the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Agriculture and we know that the Prime Minister engaged the higher authorities of BSI/ASR and the Chairman of Management of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association. I must commend and give thanks to the Prime Minister for his intervention as he was able to reach the present agreement between ASR/BSI and BSCFA.”
During the interim agreement, both parties will engage in negotiations in ‘good faith’, Osorio said.
Cane farmers from all four associations will be able to deliver their cane for grinding at the Tower Hill Factory in Orange Walk Town. However, Osorio noted that the factory will be milling at 50% capacity.
BSCFA and BSI/ASR are at odds over the existing commercial agreement. Farmers want a new agreement under new terms related to the price sharing mechanism. BSI/ASR has been resisting the request. Osorio hopes that at the end of the interim agreement, a new commercial agreement would be arrived at and one which would benefit both parties.