It's been a few weeks now since the European Union lifted all trade restrictions on the purchase of sugar. That will allow for European beet sugar farmers to compete on the same level as Belize and the other African Caribbean and Pacific countries.

Experts predict that these changes will drive the world prices of sugar down since the European farmers are able produce high quality sugar very efficiently.

Bracing for the change, everyone who depends on the viability of the Belize sugar industry have been hard at work to change their farming practices. They want to be more efficient, and to reduce the cost of production.

This evening, ASR/BSI, the government regulation bodies, and the 3 cane farming associations today launched the latest project, aimed at greater efficiency. It's called the Pre-Harvest Cane Quality Program, and the idea is that the technicians want to equip cane farmers with he technology to know when to harvest their sugar cane for maximum sweetness.  That will increase the sugar content, meaning that more sugar will be produced out of the same volume of sugar cane that is milled.

That's the hope, but for this harvesting season, 6 reaping groups will be participating in the program.

ASR/BSI is partnering with the Sugar Cane Production Committee, the farmers, and Hershey's, the American Chocolate production giant to make this project happen. The event was held this evening in Guinea grass and our news team is still on the road at this time. But they've managed to put together a short excerpt of the launch ceremony. Here's what the different representatives had to say about the project:

The Hershey Company has donated 300,000 US dollars to fund the project. ASR/BSI is providing the technical expertise, and the SCPC is monitoring the the progress of the program.

Next year, 6 more reaping groups will be selected for the training, and in the final year, the others will get their opportunity to learn how it works.

Last year 2 reaping groups participated in the pilot project for this program, and they were able to increase their production yield significantly.

Channel 7