Also at Sunday’s meeting in San Roman, the question of compensation for farmers waiting for payment for this year’s cane crop came up. It was decided as a stopgap measure by the membership to vote $2.5 million from Fairtrade funds to be equally shared with all farmers. That comes out to about $500 for each of the 5,000+ farmers who participated in last year’s season.
But the BSCFA executives, who have just received the news about being reinstated by Fairtrade, after a six-month suspension, expressed grave misgivings about this latest move.
We spoke to both Alfredo Ortega and Ezequiel Cansino about it.
“We recieved a letter that officially says that we have been lifted [from] the suspension. We are now certified to 2016 / 2017.
As soon as the mill starts to send the sugar, we will start to recieve those monies.
I am very concerned about [the 2.5 million dollar motion], because lowering the standards of fair trade and they might have some precautions to us. Maybe we should have stopped this motion, but the general assembly voted for that and we will comply, and even though we will have some problems with Fairtrade.”
“At this point the economic situation is in a bad situation. The farmers will have approved right now that they would want an amount that would set aside for the next upcoming year, in regards to the Fairtrade premium, that they would want 2.5 million dollars to be distributed amongst the farmers, so that they can have something for Christmas,and they have passed the motion. It is the farmers that approved, so that motion has gone, and I believe that it will happen.”
“Basically, all that’s left is for you all to figure out how you will divide this 2.5 million?”
Alfred Ortega, Member, Negotiating Team
“According to the motion that was passed, that it will be granted into equal part to each farmer, no matter what was the amount that the farmer delivers. So it will be a division based on the amount of farmers that deliver cane last year. If it is 5,300, then the 2.5 million will be divided between 5,300 farmers.”
The monies are in the process of being distributed.
Ezequiel Cansino noted that the farmers make the ultimate decision, but the Association would not put them in a position to risk decertification over a poor decision.