During this week’s cabinet meeting, the government authorized that fifty thousand tonnes of sugar cane from Orange Walk and Corozal sugarcane famers be delivered for milling by the Santander Sugar Group. According to a letter from C.E.O. Servulo Baeza of the Ministry of Agriculture, the reason is a shortfall in the amount being milled by B.S.I. There is also sugarcane remaining in the cane fields to be delivered during the remainder of this grinding season, but B.S.I. will not be able to efficiently mill all available harvestable sugarcane from northern districts. Viewers may recall that the 2020-2021 harvest season started later than expected in December and there were weather issues. Today, we spoke with Marcos Osorio of the Sugar Industry Control Board who praised G.O.B.’s decision. He says B.S.I. has been milling six thousand four hundred tonnes daily, on average, although they had indicated at the start of the crop, they would be processing six thousand eight hundred.

Marcos Osorio, Chairman, Sugar Industry Control Board


“So we are falling short on average by almost four hundred tonnes daily from the days of crop that we have been delivering. So, days on the production estimate, crops started out with a production estimate of one million three hundred thousand tonnes of cane but in February the Minister had requested that we conduct a review of the production estimate and SIRDI came up with a revised production estimate of one million two hundred and forty thousand tonnes of canes. The mill issued a revised price estimate and in that revised they also indicate what they estimate to mill for the crop and in their second price estimate, they forecast to mill one million sixty tonnes of cane which has been raising concerns for the farmers and also the government. This crop we have an improvement in production and the mill has not been meeting their milling targets and as a result of that when we do the numbers, if we are to end the harvest season June thirtieth we would see a hundred and twenty thousand tonnes of cane being left in the field unable to be delivered by farmers. At the moment, we have quite a number of farmers who have delivered their production estimates and have canes left in the field. So, this decision comes in the best interest of farmers but overall in the interest of the industry. I believe this will generate an extra income for the local economy of the farmers. It is a situation where the farmers and the northern districts will have a significant benefit from this venture.”

What’s Up with B.S.I.’s Mill?

Because B.S.I. cannot mill the estimated tonnes of sugarcane it had initially informed farmers it would do, this has left thousands of tonnes of sugarcane in the fields. Osorio says the decision to take the sugar cane to Santander appears to be the right one. Although B.S.I.’s mill is operating efficiently, there are other factors that may be adding to the problem.

Marcos Osorio, Chairman, Sugar Industry Control Board


“They are indicating that their mill is operating efficiently, but I think at the start of the crop they had informed the stakeholders that they would mill at six thousand eight hundred and not achieving that is basically telling us that they are having mechanical problems or processing problems reason why they are not able to mill more per day because four hundred tonnes less per day is significant and if we are at hundred days of milling that simply means that we have been leaving behind forty thousand tonnes of cane that should have been milled by now. Remember we started under wet conditions and just last weekend we had another downpour which impacts tremendously on mud levels and if mud levels are high then the mills need to slow down on the milling and also when they are producing plantation white sugar the milling rate normally reduces because there is a double process that has to happen and that simply reduces the milling rate.”

Will Santander Offer Competitive Prices for Northern Sugarcane Farmers?

Because B.S.I. cannot mill the estimated tonnes of sugarcane it had initially informed farmers it would do, this has left thousands of tonnes of sugarcane in the fields. Osorio says the decision to take the sugar cane to Santander appears to be the right one. Although B.S.I.’s mill is operating efficiently, there are other factors that may be adding to the problem.

Marcos Osorio, Chairman, Sugar Industry Control Board


“No, no, it shouldn’t in anyway. We have had discussions with Santander and they have issued an indication with what will be their price per tonne to be paid, which I can say at this point in time is pretty much a better price when compared to what we have here. But also we have to bear in mind that our payment system, our pricing system changes month by month. BSI issued a revised price estimate as the crop progresses and presently we are on third cane price if I am not mistaken and we are at forty-four dollars and eighty-five cents and for April going into May we should see a revised price estimate and I must say that from the second to the third price estimate there was no change. So, farmers don’t know their final price until November because they get paid under three payment plan – one week after delivery and the second payment is five weeks after the end of the crop and in November is the final or third payment and until then it is known what is the final price. So, I Must say that Santander has indicated what will be their price and there could be a slight change towards the mid-august when they issue their final payment. Santander is saying their payment system is done in two parts sixty percent fifteen days after delivery and forty percent around mid-August.”

Channel 5