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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Multiple industry stakeholders have spoken out publicly to say that the Sugar Industry Control Board, which is chaired by Marcos Osorio, has refused to publish the start of the sugar season, even though the stakeholders had agreed among themselves that Monday, December 20th, was an ideal date to begin the grinding season. That decision by the Chairman immediately put him in the cross-hairs of the millers and the 3 smaller associations who have signed contracts and are ready to start delivering their cane to get the industry rolling. But, because Osorio has not approved that Gazetting, the start of the season is now delayed by 4 days and counting.

So, this morning, the Sugar Board called all stakeholders to an urgent meeting today at SIRDI offices in Corozal to discuss the way forward for the industry, the impasse, and a new start date.

Viewers will remember that the BSCFA, which represents 67.1% of the entire population of cane farmers in the north, was insisting that they wanted to sign an interim agreement with the millers. That would give the two sides time to continue negotiating, and it would allow BSCFA farmers to continue their business with the millers without any interruption caused by their rapidly expiring contract. The millers, on the other hand, were adamant that this would not work for them.

Well, this evening, the SICB Chairman granted the press an interview to provide an update on the industry, and he made a surprising announcement: that Prime Minister Briceno and his team managed to broker a truce between these 2 business partners. Via Zoom he told us that the Crop season will begin next Monday, December 27th:

Marcos Osorio - Chairman, SICB
"Deliberation and discussion at the board level, we were not reaching common ground and I must mention that thanks to the prime minister who saw the need to intervene, the prime minister was in dialogue with the high authorities of ASR/BSI and the high authority in the BSCFA where he managed to reach an agreement with both parties which the start date of the harvest season which will be December 27th on Monday, BSI will open it's gates by 10 in the morning. In the meantime when the crop starts, BSI and BSCFA will sign an extension to the current contract that will go end of April 2022 during which time of the interim agreement both parties will continue negotiating in good faith, both parties and to reach and agreement and sign a new contract. I have the letter that issued by the office of the prime minister which also states that if we come to the end of the interim agreement and there is still no agreement but I think the key thing here, BSI/ASR and BSCFA agreed to continue the negotiating process during the extension of the present commercial agreement to act and behave in good faith."

In a late evening, press release, the Millers said, quote, " Belize Sugar Industries Ltd. (BSI) applauds the decision by industry stakeholders earlier today to commence the crop on Monday, December 27, 2021. The new date, one week later than had been initially agreed, is a critical decision for the entire industry and bodes well for this year's production. BSI encourages farmers from all associations to deliver their cane since it has active agreements with all four associations. BSI and the BSCFA will continue discussions to reach a mutually beneficial agreement." End quote

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,398
Marty Offline OP
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Sugar Start Will Be Challenging

Last night, we showed you the late-breaking developments in the sugar industry that have resulted in an agreement for a new start date for the 2021/2022 Crop Season.

Yesterday, the SICB Chairman, Marcos Osorio, emerged from an urgent meeting of the stakeholders to announce that somehow, the Briceno Government managed to broker a temporary truce between the BSCFA and BSI/ASR. He characterized it as an interim agreement between these two business partners that will replace their expiring contract.

But, sources tell 7News that while the SICB is characterizing this resolution as an interim agreement, the millers view it as an extension to their current contract, which expires on January 19, 2022. You may consider that distinction as nit-picking, but we are told that it is important because GOB has allegedly promised not to interfere any further after April, when the extension deadline arrives.

The letter from Prime Minister John Briceno to the leadership of both organizations says, quote, "...So far, the parties have not reached agreed terms for a new long-term agreement... To avoid the risk of uncertainty my Government proposes the following:

  • That the parties agree that the terms and conditions set out in the current Commercial Agreement will continue to apply to the delivery and processing of sugarcane for the... crop on an interim basis signed;
  • That the parties will engage in good faith negotiations... with a view to concluding a new commercial Agreement before the 30th April 2022;
  • That if a new commercial Agreement is not concluded before the 30th April 2022 then the interim agreement will expire;
  • If the interim agreement expires, only Associations and registered cane farmers who have signed commercial agreements with BSI will be permitted to deliver sugarcane to the mill." End quote.

And while that intervention has resulted in a last-minute course correction for the industry, there are several challenges that are expected to come with this new season's start. Firstly, there will be a 1-week delay, especially with good weather conditions.

Next, the mill will be operating at half of its capacity. That's because one of the factory's boilers is receiving an upgrade. That 50% capacity will last for the first 4 weeks of the season when there is a large quantity of ripe cane waiting in cane fields. Yesterday, the SICB Chairman appealed to the leaders of all reaping groups to proceed with patience, understanding, and an appreciation that everybody wants to deliver their cane:

Marcos Osorio - Chairman, SICB
"There will be a huge challenge in terms of the harvest and delivery because of how the harvesting groups are formed. The harvesting groups are formed according to the size of their transport unit. For example, a harvesting group that has a transport unit with a capacity of 18 tonnes, that harvest group leader is making sure that he gets the tonnage required for him to be able to deliver 18 tonnes daily to the mill. But, that's when the factory is operating at full capacity. What we will start with, at least for 4 weeks, is that this same group will now only have, of the 18 tonnes, he will only be able to deliver 9 tonnes because the mill will be operating at 50%. So, the big question about the factory readiness, yes, they're ready to start but to start at 50% or half capacity. We know there will be huge challenges, especially when we think of farmers in the Corozal District, who are farther from the mill, and they have to - well, we estimate that association leaders will be working closely with their harvesting groups to ensure maybe what we'll need to institute is 50% of the harvest groups delivered today, the other 50% delivered tomorrow; they go rotating until we are over these 4 weeks into the crop when the capacity of mill goes to its100%. If a group decides, I have 18 tonnes, and even though the mill is at 50%, I will still take my 18 tonnes, and everybody wants to take their full percentage, then we will simply be found in a situation where we will have huge - then that will bring losses indeed to quality because then, it will be taking 2 to 3 days for them to be able to deliver that load of cane. So, we hope, given that the farmers - and especially the associations which have been saying we're ready to start - everybody wants to start - that they are fully aware that starting the deliveries at 50%, what it means, and what each harvesting group needs to do."

Our news team will be at the Tower Hill Factory on Monday for the start of those deliveries, and we'll tell you all about it on our Tuesday Newscast after the Christmas Holiday Weekend.

Channel 7

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