REPORT #485 April 2002

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

by Peter Singfield


Talking to a water taxi operator yesterday. He requires 500 gallons of gasoline per day. 3 boats running.

With this latest price increase he went and checked for having his boats refit with Volvo Penta Diesels.

Quote is $160,000 BZ per motor -- plus extra for fitting.

Ergo -- not an option - -as he says business is generally poor -- and he can't afford to assume that kind of debt at this time.

He is running 200 HP Yams. His biggest boat has 3 of these.

There is no reason the Yams can't be run on Ethanol.

There are certain advantages to this -- besides less pollution (much less!!)

Running alcohol means an increase in HP out put - -so his 200's become 225's or more.

Runs cooler -- much cleaner (no acids) less wear on motor parts.

True -- he needs to find a vegetable based oil for his gas mix -- such as caster oil.

Though the motors can produce more power running alcohol (ergo race cars burn alcohol since the beginning) -- it still takes twice as much to get the same power -- so milage decreases by two.

Burning strong rum -- he would need 1000 gallons per day.

That would be 4 india style micro sugar factories -- as each factory processes 10 tons of cane per day -- producing 250 gallons of ethanol.

Better say five.

Each factory requires a supply from 100 acres of cane.
God knows that is so easy to have around here!!

Can it work??

Well, for this man -- it is all about lowering costs of operation -- not going into gasohol sales business.

So say he can produce his gasohol for $2.50 per gallon -- that would be equivalent to $5.00 per gallon gasoline. And yes -- he would be more than happy to be locked into that.

The villagers can co-op the gasohol deal -- so say they get $2.00 per gallon -- $50 per ton -- for their cane. Plus the labor to run the micro mill included.

It will work!!

The 50 cents per gallon balance to pay capital costs.

Each plant will bring in 250 gal * $2.00 or $500 BZ per day and require about 5 people.

The first big advantage to the canerios is drastic reduction of cane delivery costs. This is presently $15.00 per ton here in Coro.

So yes -- it will work!!

Payback and maintenance per plant pays off at $125 BZ per day.

Capital investment is $10,000 US per plant -- fermentation vats (large cement cisterns we build in place using Mennonite style steel forms), the still -- cane crusher -- small boiler -- the works!

I know this does not turn on the junior capitalists -- but one water taxi will make work for 20 Belizeans -- and the country of Belize will save a foreign exchange drain.

This water taxi man is coming to see me in the next few days -- and we probably will go ahead with one micro-plant as trial.

We aint "dead" yet -- let the elitists "run" -- we will persevere!!

Hey -- look at this way -- for the price of one Volvo boat diesel -- 8 micro sugar factories!!

The Water Taxi man figured that one out real quick! Probably even a dumb fisherman like Ray -- when faced with the real prices -- would consider going ahead with ethanol as well -- but then -- Ray is something else!!

He is also a very accurate indicator of the mentality here -- the reason we stay post colonial -- nothing to do with politics -- everything to do with the people's mentality. That lack of ability to try anything new -- do only what their elitists tell them to do -- well trained servants these Belizeans.

However -- as Ray readily admits -- these same people will copy anything that works -- and in very short order!!

So get one micro plant up and working -- in no time -- many will be doing the same.

Will GOB interfere?? I doubt that!! To many people involved -- to many "votes" --

Will the Elitists jump in??

Only if it is for a 100 million dollar US super factory -- and that simply does not pay!!

Would an intelligent business man like Jorge get involved??

Come on -- we all know that answer -- the man that hires a barge from Honduras to replace 150 sailors from Sartenaja!! Jorge is another super factory man.

And that if fine -- as soon as the global economy turns round -- we will need people of vision like Jorge -- in the meantime the people of Belize have to do their own thing -- or starve!

No investors needed for this -- 1st -- there is no profit margin available to keep investors -- people like Jorge -- "interested".

Though if Jorge was running 3 water Taxis -- and using 500 gallons of gasoline per day -- certainly I would expect him to be part of this "effort".

So you see how it goes -- always --

This list is a divided list. With most american Belizeans -- plus people like Susan -- taking the high business road. Betting everything on the Jorge style Belizean and their attempts to bring Belize back "economically".

But as Ray can tell you -- if so inclined -- never under estimate the little people here -- that struggle for survival -- while the rest talk big -- these do things. They have to -- they have no other choice.

The future of Belize -- in my opinion -- is with the little people -- village level -- with cooperative efforts. The sooner we lose the elitists and their "concessions" -- the better!!

Those preach "wait for the industrialization of Belize -- and everyone will have a good job"

We wait and wait and wait -- time to stop waiting and do our little -- tiny -- MICRO -- thing.

Peter/Project Volunteer, Belize Development Trust ( [email protected] )

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