The Sugar Industry Control Council defends the delay in starting the harvest; blames BSI / ASR for industry disruption


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Posted: Wednesday, December 22, 2021. 9:11 a.m. CST.

By Aaron Humes: Sugar Industry Supervisory Board (SICB) Chairman Marcos Osorio told Channel 5 News that Belize Sugar Industries Limited / American Sugar Refining (BSI / ASR) has sown the seeds of its own dissatisfaction with the start-up late harvest of sugar.

First, Osorio insisted that publishing a date for the start of the harvest is the law and that Council was concerned about a difficult start given the current stalemate between BSI / ASR and Belize. Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) regarding their expiry of a trade agreement.

“And, why the hell in the best interest of the industry and our people, and our cane growers, why we would have allowed the cultivation to start with one of the associations that did not have a trade agreement, where the mill has repeatedly finished and on said that on January 19, I would say January 20, the BSCFA farmers will not be able to deliver cane to the factory because their contract expires on January 19? ”Osorio asked.

He further accused that the millers had not played in good faith, including allegedly having their field agents “intimidating and confusing” the BSCFA members to leave the association and sign with others, as well as their public offering of individual farmer contracts, which Osorio openly called “the tactic to break the BSCFA, because the tactic is to further dilute the farmers’ organization, with one main focus.” This main objective is simply to remove all structures in the industry where the factory is the only one to dictate.

A meeting of the SICB has been called to hear from both sides, but as chairman he believes an interim deal is the best way forward at this point. But is the SICB fair play? Osorio says the board is reacting to what they see on the pitch and the possibility of an interruption in deliveries that was too risky to allow to continue. The board must be fair and neutral, he said, but it must also ensure that the environment is right for a smooth start to the harvest, for the benefit of all stakeholders in the industry.

Osorio further denied that the decision was influenced politically, saying he had called in accordance with the law. The SICB, he added, is independent and no longer complies with the wishes of the mill, which he says has them in arms.

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