Price of Local Sugar Remains Unchanged Until 1 January 2016

14 December 2015

It has come to our attention that certain retailers have increased the price of plantation white sugar to 75 cents a lb. BSI wishes to confirm that the price of plantation white sugar being sold at its Tower Hill Warehouse remains unchanged and will not be increased until 1 January 2016, in line with the Statutory Instrument dated 4 December 2015.

Posted on December 15, 2015 .

Joint Press Release - BSI and IDB

As part of the country’s ongoing dialogue with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on ways to transform Belize’s sugar industry into a sustainable and economically viable one, a delegation comprised of 14 Counsellors of the Board of Executive Directors representing the 48 member countries of the IDB visited the Orange Walk District today. Aptly dubbed “Sugar City”, Orange Walk Town was the setting this afternoon for Sugar Industry stakeholders to host the delegation at an event in which special emphasis was made of the need to deploy sustainable practices to help grow the industry while protecting the environment, along with the health and safety of the industry’s workers.


Led by Elvira Méndez, Belize’s representative on the Board, the distinguished group benefitted from industry presentations, toured the Tower Hill sugar mill and power plant and met with sugar industry officials, representatives of cane farmers associations, local dignitaries and the media.


Over the past two and a half years, the IDB, the ASR Group-Belize Sugar Industries Ltd. (BSI) and industry institutions and associations have maintained close and continuous communication with regard to the needs of the sugar industry as it confronts the challenges of less than favorable market conditions and higher production costs. This visit, therefore, underlines the support which the IDB has provided to the industry in Belize, most recently in the form of a grant contribution of over US$1.3M for the implementation of a technical cooperation project designed to establish a dedicated extension service program for the benefit of the 5,400 sugar cane farmers in northern Belize. This support, received through the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the IDB Group, will help farmers to better prepare for the future by providing technical assistance to help improve sugar cane productivity and to increase efficiencies thereby reducing costs along the value chain of sugar cultivation and production. According to Yolanda Strachan of the Multilateral Investment Fund, “The MIF has since 2000, developed targeted interventions to support sustainable agriculture in Latin America and the Caribbean. To increase the impact on livelihoods and living conditions of the beneficiaries, the design of this capacity-building project included the active involvement of key supply chain stakeholders: farmers, lead firm, and finance providers.” This project is being implemented by the Sugar Industry Research and Development Institute (SIRDI).

The visit also entailed a review of ASR Group-BSI’s latest investments in the Tower Hill sugar mill as well as the Belcogen co-generation power plant which commenced operations for the Sugar Cane Crop 2015-16 two days prior to the visit. Notably, the IDB was one of the original co-funders of Belcogen in 2009, which provided the foundation for the sugar industry to expand to its current level of production and processing. Belcogen now supplies approximately 15 percent of the nation’s electricity needs from renewable sources, with that percentage forecast to grow as sugar production output increases through the industry’s collaborative efforts aimed at improving farm productivity and efficiency.

This visit to Orange Walk was part of a three-day tour of Belize by the Counsellors of the IDB’s Executive Board in order to have first-hand awareness and familiarity of the projects supported by the Bank in Belize. Other projects to be visited include: the Solid Waste Management Program, the Sustainable Tourism Program and the Community Action for Public Safety project.

Posted on December 10, 2015 .

Press Release: Local Sugar Price Increase Benefits Entire Industry’s Viability

8 December 2015

Today, BSI issued a revised cane price estimate to cane farmer associations for the 2015/16 crop. As a result of last week’s decision by the Government to raise the price of plantation white sugar, cane farmers were informed that the first cane payment will increase to $36.65 based on a revised first cane price estimate, which increased from $41.56 to 45.25.


This increase fully reflects the increase provided under the new Statutory Instrument giving it effect. Though it was less than expected by farmers as a result of the government decision not to extend the increase to brown sugar, and also because the benefit is spread over more tons of cane as a result of an increased expected crop this year than that envisaged in 2014 when the proposal was made by industry stakeholders to Government.


Nevertheless, the increase will be of great benefit to the industry, and signals the first time in almost 15 years (the last increase was January 2001) that the industry has seen an upward adjustment in prices despite significant market changes over the years. The proposal was rooted in the context of anticipated adverse developments in the EU Sugar market, which has historically been Belize’s traditional and most beneficial export market. The EU reforms will reduce the preferential value of that market considerably in the lead up to the lifting of current restrictions on EU beet production in 2017. The proposed increase in local sugar price was justified on the basis that the increased price will:


1. Recognize increased costs for cane growing, sugar manufacturing and transportation over the past 14 years.
2. Positively impact industry revenues and in particular result in an increase in the cane price paid to farmers.
3. Have a negligible impact on consumers, which based on sales data, would result in an incremental increase on average for a family of four of around $1.50 per week.
4. Eliminate the incentive for illegal cross-border trade in sugar given the material price differential between Belize and our neighboring countries. Belize has for decades had the lowest retail price for local sugar compared to Central America and Caribbean countries. This results in the need to be tightly controlling and policing sugar sales in the local market to avoid supply shortages to local consumers.


The sugar industry of Belize is challenged to remain viable in an environment of increasingly competitive external markets, particularly based on the EU reforms in 2017. Therefore, the local sugar price increase, though only partial at this time, is a critical step, that complements and supports the industry’s efforts to ensure long-term viability.

Posted on December 8, 2015 .

Press Release: IDB support for the creation of a sustainable sugar Industry in northern Belize

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is pleased to announce that it has approved a US$1.3M grant from the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) to finance a project that will support the development of a sustainable sugar industry in northern Belize. This three-year project will provide resources to create and implement a dedicated extension service for over 5,400 sugar cane farmers in northern Belize and to build a sustainable farming model that strengthens the capabilities of these farmers. The project will also support the integration of agricultural technology and the implementation of a centralized geographic information system which will enhance coordination and assist the industry’s ability to strategically plan for the future.


This project will be implemented by the Sugar Industry Research and Development Institute (SIRDI) and will complement previous and ongoing support for Belize’s sugar industry provided by the European Union, the Belize Sugar Industries Limited, La Inmaculada Credit Union Limited, the United Nations Development Program, and the sugar cane farmers’ associations. The project also supports the Strategic Development Plan which is currently being developed by industry stakeholders and the Government of Belize as a comprehensive and cohesive roadmap to the long-term sustainability of this vital economic sector.


“Since 2000, the MIF has developed targeted interventions to support sustainable agriculture in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). To increase the impact on livelihoods and living conditions of the beneficiaries, the design of this capacity-building project included the active involvement of key supply chain stakeholders: farmers, leading firm, and finance providers.”
-Yolanda Strachan, Multilateral Investment Fund

SIRDI’s technical staff, composed of six field officers, will be complemented by 12 additional technicians who will work with 270 harvest group leaders and with the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), the Progressive Sugar Cane Producers Association (PSCPA), and the Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association (CSCPA) to strengthen their organizational, managerial, and operational capacity. Farmers and harvest group leaders will benefit from training aimed at increasing productivity and adapting best practices in sugar cane cultivation, data collection, and entrepreneurship.
“A ‘training of the trainers’ approach will be employed in order to promote knowledge transfer and to ensure that a high quality extension service continues to be delivered beyond the lifetime of the project.”
- Marcos Osorio, Executive Director, SIRDI

Significantly, this project will support the operationalization of the Sugar Industry Management Information System (SIMIS) within SIRDI, which will act as a centralized database for the 75,000+ acres of sugar cane presently under cultivation in order to improve the quality of data for monitoring, analysis, and informed decision-making by industry stakeholders. Once fully implemented, this system will be a critical tool for a viable and sustainable sugar industry.


“ This IDB support could not have come at a better time. The industry faces important market challenges. Assisting farmers to improve their yields will help them to reduce their cost and contribute to a more efficient and competitive industry.”
- Mac MacLachlan, Vice President, International Relations, ASR Group


About the Multilateral Investment Fund


The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, is funded by 39 countries and supports private sector-led development benefiting low-income populations and the poor—their businesses, their farms, and their households. The aim is to give them tools to boost their incomes: access to markets and the skills to compete in those markets, access to finance, and access to basic services, including green technology. A core MIF mission is to act as a development laboratory—experimenting, pioneering, and taking risks to build and support successful micro, small, and medium business models. More information can be found at www.fomin.org .

About the Inter-American Development Bank

The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.

 

For more information:

Marcos Osorio
(501) 677 4734
marcos.sirdi@gmail.com


Jacqueline Dragone
(501) 221 5324
jdragone@iadb.org

Download a copy of the official press release here: IDB MIF Sugar Project Press Release

Posted on September 7, 2015 .

Installation of Dumper Table

A new 40 ton dumping table will be installed at the East Cane Carrier for the 2016 sugar cane crop. This equipment will enable speedier offloading of trucks which use straps. The new dumper will contribute to 80% of total cane being discharged by tilting instead of lifting. This investment is worth around BZ$1 million, and is a further demonstration of ASR/BSI’s commitment to improving the industry.

Posted on March 6, 2015 .

Launch of BSI/ASR's Contribution the Strategic Development Plan

Following signature of a new, long term purchase agreement, the sugar associations, mill and government have all signed a commitment to produce a Strategic Development Plan within one year of the signatures, to map a course to make the Belizean sugar industry sustainable and profitable for all industry stakeholders, capable of making a significant contribution to the nation’s economy.


The Belize Sugar Industries is contributing to the Strategic Development Plan process with a strategy paper entitled, “Transforming Sugar Production in Belize into a Modern, Sustainable, Green Model, Contributing to Jobs, Growth and Energy Security”. The strategy paper considers a range of inter-related challenges and potential solutions to overcome them to make the industry sustainable. Key elements include crop productivity, mill efficiency, mill and power plant expansion, investment requirements and how to achieve a suitable return on investment to realize industry expansion.


BSI/ASR stands ready to fully participate in the process of drawing up an SDP and looks forward to co-operating with all industry stakeholders in this process. This strategy paper is intended as a discussion document to stimulate consideration of what the industry needs to do to become sustainable and what type of investment climate will be required to achieve that outcome.


All of those interested in the Sugar Industry can download an electronic copy of the strategy paper by visiting the industry website at: www.sugarindustryofbelize.com. Hard copies will be made available by early next week to all industry stakeholders.

Posted on March 6, 2015 .