Date For Season Opening In Sight
Tonight, there is palpable relief in the Sugar Industry after a positive meeting between the cane farmers and the factory owners which finished an hour ago.
At the end of the meeting at the BSI Staff Club in Orange Walk, the Vice Chairman of the BSCFA’s Committee of Management and BSI Representative Belizario Carballo declared to the media waiting outside that the crop may start on January 16, if the farmers and ASR agrees to a new proposal which they discussed today.
Belizario Carballo - CFO, BSI
"Both sides expressed mutual interest to getting on with the crop, and I think that this is hopefully what will drive us. We know that the conditions aren't ideal. We know that we will be starting the crop under very difficult road conditions, but clearly, we have to make a start, and time is not in our favour. Certainly, we are hopeful that we can start the crop within a short period of time. We have tentatively been discussing the possibility of starting January 16, next week Thursday. Hopefully, we will be able to agree on that."
Alfredo Ortega - Vice Chairman, Committee of Management, BSFCA
"What we are looking for is in regards to what we've been asking them in regards a payment for Bagasse, and also putting on part what they had presented to us, which was to start the crop without interruption. We have also placed on them that we are asking them to maintain the memorandum of understanding with relation to the past agreement, and also that each side can move forward without prejudice."
"Has it been clarified the part where bagasse will be paid for; or is there a compromise saying that yes they are going to pay the cane farmers for bagasse?
"Well, in certain views yes, they will be clarifying that with the letter that we have sent to them, which they've taken on today. They will be presenting it to the ASR Group, a response, which they will be sending us tomorrow."
Both sides will take it back to their principals, BSI to ASR, and the BSFCA to their general membership. Assuming that both sides agree to the interim agreement – with any possible amendments to the language – by Monday, there should be enough in place to set a start date, and, again that possible date is January 16.
But the delay has caused the sugar industry to lose a projected 10 million dollars had the season started 6 weeks ago. That projection may increase if this new proposal is not agreed upon by both sides.
They are hoping to produce one hundred thousand tonnes of sugar cane.