BSCFA decides to sign agreement with BSI/ASR

BSCFA is signing on to the agreement. That was the general consensus of a meeting held on Tuesday, with the 18 branch directors of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association.

Over the weekend, all directors met with their respective branches, to decide whether they would accept the agreement or not.

On Tuesday,  the directors met at the BSCFA head quarters in Orange Walk, to make a final decision on the matter. At the meeting there was still a division of opinion, however the majority voted in favor of moving forward with signing the agreement.

At this point, however, there is uncertainty regarding the number of farmers being represented by the association. Since Monday, groups of farmers from a cross section of BSCFA branches have been filing in to the offices of the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB), petitioning to be recognized as independent reaping groups, with intentions on signing the agreement with BSI, in order to kick start the crop season.

SICB chairman Gabriel Martinez told us more.

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vlcsnap-2015-01-14-06h41m47s32Gabriel Martinez – Chairman of the Sugar Industry Control Board

“Up to this time, as we speak, from our figures and from the petitions and signatures that this office has received, we’re talking to what amounts to very close to four hundred thousand tons of cane that has been compromised.”

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According to BSI, a minimum of SICB5 thousand tons of sugar cane is needed to start the mill. With that in mind, there is a tenacity to believe that the opening of the crop season is just around the corner. Martinez told us that the board is accepting the farmers’ petitions, but until the Sugar act is amended, BSCFA remains as the sole representative of the cane farmers. We asked Gabriel Martinez about the legalities of this matter.

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Gabriel Martinez

“At this time SICB is accepting their petitions as reaping groups.  However they all have manifested their intentions to sign.

I guess everyone knows by this time that the Prime Minister of this country said that given the circumstances there could be a possible amendment to the Sugar Act.  I think that is as far as I can say at this time.

We are entertaining, as we do yearly, farmers come into the SICB office and register their reaping groups, harvest groups, with the Sugar Cane Production Committee, which is an arm of the Sugar Industry Control Board.

So at this time, we are just facilitating the process for these farmers.”

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Martinez told Plus News how the SICB intends to regulate delivery once the crop starts.

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Gabriel Martinez

“We at the  SICB are contemplating that once we get to this point, as in the best interest of everyone, we intend to call the meeting with all the parties, and to iron out whatever differences there are as it pertains to delivery, and come up with a planned schedule, so that we can carry on this, as smooth as possible.”

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According to Gabriel Martinez, the independent reaping groups are expressing intentions of forming a new Association.
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