Friday, August 18, 2017

Sugar Industry at a Crossroads

Saturday, July 29, 2017, 19:29
This news item was posted in Uncategorized category and has 0 Comments so far.
Wednesday, July 26 2017   The Sugar Industry Zafra in the North ended on June 16, 2017.  Twenty-three thousand tons less of sugar cane were milled compared to last year but 11,000 tons more sugar was produced. This is a clear indication that the quality of sugarcane delivered by the farmers exceeded last year’s quality.   The final price for this year’s crop, $60.55, is a slight increase compared to last year’s price. This however is far less than what Mexican cane farmers received for their sugar price. Mexican farmers received payment of 747.80 pesos per ton of sugarcane, which is equivalent to $99.70BZD.  Reports are that Belize’s next door neighbours, Guatemalan cane farmers, also received payments far above the price paid to Belizean cane farmers. So, while it appears that Belize ranks among the best in sugar cane quality in the region, farmers are being paid the lowest price in an environment of regionally excessive high cost of production.   The cane farmers are extremely concerned about the further reduction of prices in sugarcane which will come into effect in October of this year when production quotas are lifted from European Beet Producers. Analyst believe that prices may go down as much as by 25-30%.   However, the greatest shock to cane-farmers came by way of a media interview with CEO in the Ministry of Agriculture Jose Alpuche on Tuesday, 18th July 2017 at a stakeholders’ meeting. Alpuche stated that government is under pressure from IFI’s to end the fuel subsidy to cane-farmers, stating - “we really don’t have the resources to provide support for farmers and I must be very clear about that…government is coming under tremendous pressure by IFI’s to end the subsidies that they provide for sugar,” said CEO Alpuche.   However, on Tuesday, 25th July the Prime Minister rejected that statement by Alpuche, saying that his government is not under any pressure to end the fuel subsidy program to cane farmers and that maybe it was poor CEO Alpuche who was under pressure. So the question now has to be - “Are CEO Alpuche and the Ministry of Agriculture working unilaterally to end the fuel subsidy for small cane farmers?”   But is Mr. Barrow really telling the truth? He has been known to sidestep it on occasion when it suits him. He has also been known to side with big business when it is convenient. Critics also say that the Ministry of Agriculture has always been against the small cane-farmers and favours more the corporate entities, actions that are least desired if the industry is to survive the drastic price cut. It is clear that for the industry to survive…policies agreements and decisions must be beneficial to all stake holders. Fairness and transparency are key elements that required for survival of the industry and the government’s obligation to ensure that this is achieved.
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply