“Sweet or Sour: Government to Mediates Between Sugar Mills and Cane Farmers to Salvage Belize's Sugar Industry"

“Sweet or Sour: Government to Mediates Between Sugar Mills and Cane Farmers to Salvage Belize's Sugar Industry"

Tue, 03/07/2023 - 20:37
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By: Omar Silva, NP Staff Writer

Belize City: Tuesday, 7th March 2023

The sugar industry in Belize is facing a challenging situation as there are conflicting interests between the sugar mills and cane farmers. While Santander Sugar Group has invested in mechanized harvesting, BSI-ASR still relies on cane cutters to bring the cane to the mill. The question that arises is whether what's best for the industry is in the best interest of the workers and farmers who depend on it.

The government of Belize has stated that it will not nationalize the sugar industry and instead, it aims to get both parties to work together for the benefit of the industry. A ministerial sub-committee has been established to facilitate discussions between the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and BSI-ASR, with the aim of reaching a commercial agreement that is fair for all parties involved.

On the one hand, mechanized harvesting may be more profitable for the industry, as it can reduce labor costs and increase efficiency. However, this could lead to job losses for the cane cutters and have a negative impact on their income. The government's recognition of the sacrifices made by the cane farmers is important, and any agreement reached must ensure that they are justly rewarded for their hard work.

On the other hand, BSI-ASR's reliance on cane cutters may be seen as a more sustainable approach, as it provides employment opportunities for local workers and supports the local economy. However, there may be concerns about the safety and working conditions of the cane farmers/cutters, and these must be addressed to ensure that they are not exploited.

Ultimately, any solution that is reached must strike a balance between the interests of the sugar mills, and the farmers. The government's role in facilitating discussions and finding a fair compromise is crucial in ensuring the sustainability of the sugar industry and the well-being of those who depend on it.