In the backdrop of Monday’s events, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association met with their General Assembly on Sunday, at the request of BSI/ASR, to get the approval from their general membership to sign the agreement and put an end to this long saga of the impasse in the sugar industry.
As was expected, the meeting was short and to the point. The voting was cast and the majority said yes to the agreement.
After the meeting we spoke with Chairman Ezequiel Cansino, who has been the target of much criticism.
“”We just came to get an approval from the membership to go ahead and sign the agreement with BSI. We came straight to the point and the cane farmers responded as positive as we expected. We don’t have anything else to do today, but only that we will inform BSI, and try our best to sign as soon as possible tomorrow.
As from tomorrow, we decide to work on the list, because we have to clear our list from the other members who have already joined other associations. So we have to clean this list, so as we can get clearly how many cane farmers will stay with us, and how much is the amount of production that we will be manageing.”
Someone who has been out of the picture for some time now is CEO for the BSCFA Committee of Management Oscar Alonzo. He gave us his thought on the resolution passed.
“It’s what was necessary. The farmers need to start the crop, and sometimes in any negotiation process you win some and you lose some. This is not the final thing. Farmers will continue to work with B.S.I. If you need to retreat a bit to advance further in the future, I think that is something noble, that something natural.
So although there are other members, other associations, we hope that we can work with them together. Everyone can work together for the future and prosperity of the industry.
The turnout today more or less emphasizes that the BSCFA is not finished. I think people still have faith and confidence in the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association. It has a track record, sometimes marred by difficulties and so on, but I think members see that there is a better future with the BSCFA, and we will see how we can continue to work with Fairtrade, even though some mistakes are made along the way.
This is how you grow. This is how you improve. I think the members are prepared to make this organization a stronger organization.”
CEO Alonzo also commented on the Faitrade letters addressed to the management of BSCFA that warned against disbursements of moneys which, according to Fairtrade, signaled the Associations inability to comply with Fairtrade standards. Taking that into account, the decertification of BSCFA from Fairtrade seemed almost inevitable.
However, CEO Alonzo says there is still hope.
” The financial situation will oblige us to make an adjustment. We’ve got to adjust. Fairtrade funds is not the only source that you can get money from. We need to ensure that we are putting at least some activities or some measures to show Fairtrade that we are trying to comply with the criteria.
It’s not the amount that you put in, it’s the way you do it and the intention that I think Fairtrade will be looking at closely this year.
I think this will make us more resilient in trying to see how we can find partnerships with other organizations, to help us fund measures that are necessary, especially the issues with child labour, the issues relating to the environment, and ensure that we comply with the requirements that the international market for sugar has.
It’s not a matter of Fairtrade. If we’re going to sell sugar abroad, there are certain requirements that the market demands, regardless of whether Fairtrade is here or not. So it’s something that not only us but the other associations will have to be addressing too.”
BSCFA official penned their agreement on behalf of all member farmers of BSCFA on Monday morning at around 11:00 am at Tower Hill in Orange Walk Town.