The second point of contention in the new agreement is of course one that has dominated the sugar industry scene for the past year – payment for bagasse. In B.S.I.’s proposal, there is no mention of bagasse…just fibre, and a formula which the factory proposes to use to pay farmers for the fibre taken from their bagasse. The B.S.C.F.A.’s C.E.O. stated today that incredibly, the very formula for bagasse payment proposed by B.S.I. is directly contrary to reality and fair business practices.
Oscar Alonzo, Chief Executive Officer, B.S.C.F.A.
“It is scientifically known that it is not the fibre that produces the energy alone. It is the bagasse that produces the energy and the electricity that is sold to B.E.L. It is like a person that wants to make a tamales. To make the tamales, you must have the corn, the Manteca, the salt and the other stuff. The lady cannot make the tamal only on the corn and it is the same thing. The energy and electricity cannot be generated solely with the fibre of the cane. It has to involve all the components of the bagasse and one of the component of the bagasse is fibre; the other components are water and some sucrose that remains in it. So it is the bagasse, the interaction of those three elements that produces that energy and electricity. And secondly, the energy that is produced, the electricity is not sold in Europe. It is sold in Belize. The market for electricity is Belize. So to price the product, the bagasse that generates the electricity, you need to use the real market related to that; the price of electricity that Belize pays to BELCOGEN for the role. Therefore, it is those two factors that you need to put together in order to arrive at a just and fair payment for the bagasse. But yet, B.S.I., as I say, because of its monopolist power, because of its imperialistic and transnational nature sees it fit to come and want to impose on us small farmers what it has been doing around the world in relation to its other operations so that it can retain as much of the benefits that are derived from our product.”
There are other areas of concern for the Association and the farmers, but the reality is any agreement by the parties seems distinctly unlikely. That means that if there is to be a crop, there will need to be intervention by government, sooner rather than later.