BSI Hosts First Post Harvest Conference!

350 people including cane farmers, BSI Staff, business representatives and members of government actively participated in the first ever Sugar Industry Post Harvest Conference on July 31st 2014. The theme for this year was, “Preparing for the Challenges of 2017”.

The conference was carried out to present this year’s sugar crop milling report, highlight achievements during the crop season, discuss challenges faced by industry stakeholders and to promote a positive change in the Sugar Industry. The event provided a platform for stakeholders to consider strategic opportunities for the industry, especially for the year 2017 when the regulation for the sale of beet sugar and high fructose syrup will be lifted. Mr. Jose Montalvo, BSI’s Chief Executive Officer, gave the opening remarks of the event where he emphasized the commitment of working together and jointly focusing efforts to improve the competitiveness of the industry.

Items on the agenda included a presentation of the mill report by BSI’s factory manager, Mr. John Gillett, a panel discussion led by Mr. Arturo Hernandez from the San Estevan Branch, Mr. Leonides Carrillo from the San Lazaro Branch and Mr. Modesto Ulloa from BSI’s GCP Research
Department on how to improve our harvesting and delivery system. The Sugar Cane Production Committee (SCPC) and the Sugar Industry Research and Development Institute also participated in the conference with presentations carried out by Mr. Jose Novelo and Mr. Javier Garcia from SCPC and Ms. Jessamyn Ramos from SIRDI.

Celestino Ruiz, ASR's Vice President & Mac McLachlan, Vice President of International Relations

Celestino Ruiz, ASR's Vice President & Mac McLachlan, Vice President of International Relations

Mac McLachlan, International Relations Vice President , Celestino Ruiz, ASR’s Vice President, and Marcos Osorio, SIRDI’s director, ended the conference with a panel discussion on the future challenges facing the industry and possible solutions to combat these difficulties. The public was given the opportunity to ask questions and give comments based on all the sessions that took place throughout the morning.

A total of 1,214,106 tons of cane were milled producing 123,801 tons of sugar and 43, 526 tons of molasses for the crop season.

The Belize Sugar Industries Limited takes this opportunity to thank everyone who participated in this important open discussion!

Posted on April 7, 2015 .

BSI’s Annual Summer WORK PROGRAM

For more than 10 years, the Belize Sugar Industries has been hosting Summer Work Programs open to interested students from all over the country. The program has proven to be very successful, with students from various secondary and tertiary institutions sending applications
every year.

The program provides the opportunity for students to continue being productive during their vacations and to gain solid work experience which will benefit them in their future careers. It also assists students to cover part of their expenses for the upcoming school year. This year, fifteen students from various educational institutions formed part of the summer program including students from the University of Belize, University of Technology Jamaica, University of Quintana Roo, Muffles Junior College, the Institute for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ITVET), Orange Walk Technical High School and the Belize High School of Agriculture. Students were placed in different departments of the company in accordance with their academic fields of study ranging from mechanical and electrical engineering, sustainable
resource management, computer science, agriculture and business science. Zaida Flores, Program Organizer and Office Administrator at Belcogen, says that she enjoys organizing and working along with these students since they bring a lot of enthusiasm in the different departments where they work during the summer.

Some students use this opportunity as a requirement of an internship to complete their degrees in different fields of study. At the end of the summer program, students are evaluated based on their performance and an official report is sent back to their institution. Once the program is finished, students go back to their respective homes and educational institutions with a greater knowledge of the professional working environment.

Posted on April 7, 2015 .

Soil Types in Belize’s Sugar Cane Area

A report on soil survey was published in November 2011 by the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association in collaboration with TECNOAZUCAR and the Research Institute of Sugarcane (INICA) of Cuba in order to establish fertilizer recommendations and general agronomic management.

According to the report, the sugarcane territory of Belize consists mainly of slightly acidic to alkaline soils with high carbonate content. The soils are relatively young with a predominating clay loam to clay soil texture. The main limitations of these soils are low effective depth, poor drainage, compaction, water logging and micro nutrient deficiencies.

The predominant soils identified by the study on the sugarcane area of Belize are separated into four orders: Inceptisols, Vertisols, Mollisols and Alfisols. The distribution of these profiles can be seen in the figure to the left.

Inceptisols: This soil type occupies 71.9% of the total sugar cane area. It is located primarily
in the northeastern portion from the Belize Sugar Industries, coinciding with the branches of Corozal, Xaibe, Louisville and San Narciso. Most of the soils in this order have medium to coarse texture, generally moderate to good drainage, good organic matter content and a slightly acidic pH.


Vertisols: This soil type occupies 24.50% of the total sugar cane area. It is mainly located in the
south central portion from the BSCFA, coinciding with the branches of San Narciso, San Jose, Orange Walk and Yo Creek. It’s pH is also slightly acidic to neutral and its organic matter content is medium to high. This soil type has a medium to fine texture and drainage is generally moderate to imperfect.


Mollisols: This soil type occupies 0.99% of the total sugar cane area. It is mainly located in the
southwestern portion from BSI, coinciding with the San Lazaro branch. It is a deep dark soil with high organic matter content and a saturation ratio above 50 percent. It has mild to severe compaction, a clay loam to clay texture and moderate to imperfect drainage. It is characterized by a slightly acidic to neutral soil reaction with good moisture retention capacity.

Alfisols: This soil type occupies 2.61% of the total sugar cane area. It is mainly located in the
Southeast portion from BSI, coinciding with the branches of Orange Walk, San Lazaro and Guinea Grass. It is an average deep soil with reddish coloration. It has light to heavy compaction, a clay loam to clay texture and moderate drainage. This soil type also has an acidic soil reaction and a medium to low organic matter content.

Posted on April 7, 2015 .

Typical Good Practices in Sugarcane Planting

Planting is carried out to last at least 6 years. To avoid spending more money to bring any corrections after planting, adopt the correct steps at planting. Here are some of the typical practices carried out by SIRDI, BSI’s Cane Growing Project and a farmer with good yields:


  • Choose the most adequate planting months.  (We recommend August-December).  A soil sample from your farm should be analyzed prior to planting. Planting can be done manually.
  • Land preparation should be correctly executed as advised: 1 sub-soiling, 1 plough; 1 harrow, 2nd harrow, furrowing.
  • Choose the appropriate variety to be planted. An early variety to harvest in Jan to February, an intermediate variety to harvest in March to April, or a late variety to harvest in May to June. Planting a single variety per unit area will help to maximize quality and sugar production.
  • Whole stalk seed cane harvested at 4-5 tons per acre, should be chopped into 3 buds setts, placed continuously in a double row when planting in the furrows (18 eyebuds per linear yard), with not more than 2-3 inches of fine soil covering the seed.
  • Good quality seed cane  should be harvested at 7-9 months, from a clean seed nursery. This is the first step for the establishment of a productive cane field.
  • Double rows planting distances (20” x 20” x 35”) or in single rows (60” between rows). Depth of furrows at 12”.
  • Apply the recommended fertilizer based on the results of the soil analysis. In the absence of a soil analysis, apply 2 bags of complete fertilizer per acre and manure, if available, moderately at the base of the furrows. 6-8 weeks after germination, incorporate 1 bag of urea fertilizer at the base of the cane plant.
  • As soon as planting is completed, apply to the area recently planted a pre-emergent herbicide (consult SIRDI officers for recommended dosage).
  • After 4-6 weeks, spray herbicide combination: 1.2 Kg of Diuron + 1 lt of 2,4 D Amine, + 1.2 kg of Ametryne diluted in 120 Liters of water per acre ratio if some youngs weeds emerge.

Farmer- Mr. Octavio Cowo from the Orange Walk Branch:

  • Choose the right planting months. I advise (June-August). The soil of your farm should be analyzed.
  • Land preparation includes slash and burn, removing large objects such as rocks and doing 1st plough. Leave soil for a year and do a 2nd plough, harrowing, soil leveling and furrowing.
  • Select the adequate variety to be planted. I use only B79. Plant this variety during different months to ensure different maturity dates during the crop season.
  • Whole stalk cane seed harvested at 6 tons per acre, should be chopped into 3-5 bud setts, and placed continuously in double row in the furrow with tops and roots in opposite direction,  and covered with not more than 3-5 inches of fine soil.
  • Good quality cane seed (7-9 months old) can be harvested manually from your own cane fields or bought from a certified nursery.
  • Single row (with spacing 5 ft 6 inches) furrows should be drilled at least 10-14 inches deep.
  • Apply 1 to 1.5 bags of fertilizer per acre of 18-5-20. 8 weeks after germination, apply 1.5 sacks of urea fertlizers at the base of the cane plant and ridge.
  • As soon as planting is completed, apply in the rows and inter rows pre-emergent such as Prowl
  • After 4-6 weeks, spray Flash and Bull Grass (500-700 mg of both per acre) if some young weeds are growing.


  • Choose the right planting season. We advise August-December (Fall Planting). The soil of your farm should be analyzed.
  • Land preparation should be correctly executed as advised (Cross sub-soiling at 45°, 1st plough, 1st harrow, 2nd harrow [if required], bed and/or furrow)
  • Select the adequate variety to be planted. By planting several varieties, in different parcels with different maturities, will help to maximize sugar production.
  • Whole stalk cane seed, harvested at 24-25 tons per acre, should have atleast 3 healthy buds per seed set. There should be at least 12 healthy buds per linear meter with 3-4 in depth of soil covering the seed. Plant double line or overlapped. Healthy buds should have no damages due to mechanical cut, borer, dry buds or rats.
  • Good quality cane seed  (7-9 months old) should be harvested (manually or semi-mechanically), from a certified nursery to ensure good germination. Germination expectancy should be atleast 8 plants per linear meter.
  • Double row (2 m between beds; 16 inches between rows) or single row (with spacing of 71 inches). Furrows depth should be at least 12 inches.
  • Apply 2 bags of fertilizer (6-15-39) per acre at the bottom of the furrow. 8-10 weeks after germination apply 1.2 bags of 37-0-0 fertilizer per acre at the base of the plant and mould.
  • As soon as planting is completed, apply with a knapsack or boomsprayer pre-emergent herbicide (Merlin 75 WG or Alion 50 SC)
  • After 6-8 weeks, spray Diuron + 2,4 D Amine (1.2 Kg+1.2 L in 120 L of water per acre) if some young weeds are emerging.

Planting is not a cookbook, and even though some typical practices have been listed, these may not apply to everyone. Planting depending, on crop start date, moisture conditions, and resources can be defined as Spring and Fall Planting. The message above is that in theory, planting can be achieved year round depending on available moisture and resources. There is not a finite optimum planting period.

Posted on April 7, 2015 .

FROM Sugar Cane, TO Sugar Crystals

1. Preparation    2. Extraction    3. Clarification    4. Evaporation    5. Crystallization    6. Separation

EXTRACTION OF SUGAR FROM CANE: After the sugar cane has been chopped and shredded at the Cane Yard, this prepared cane then enters the No.1 mill where the first step begins in the extraction of sugar from the cane. There are five individual sets of mill tandems; each made up of four iron rollers. The cane is crushed twice as it passes through each tandem for a total of ten crushes before it leaves the mill house as bagasse. In order to squeeze the maximum juice out of the bagasse, these crushing rollers each weigh 20 tons, and are rotated with hydraulic drives under a minimum pressure of 1,500 pounds per square inch.


It is said that the Mill area is the most critical section of the sugar factory since whatever sugar is not recovered here is lost forever in furnaces of the boilers. This year the pol extraction (sucrose content in the juice) at the Mills improved by over two percentage points as against 2013, which meant an additional 2,000 tons of sugar was recovered from the cane.

New Perforated Mill Roller

New Perforated Mill Roller


For the 2014 crop, a new type of mill roller was installed at the No. 5 mill, called a perforated roll. This roll has over 1,000 holes drilled at the base of the grooves over the surface of the roller for better drainage of the cane juice, which contributed to enhanced sugar extraction and a reduction of bagasse moisture. This new roll performed remarkably well since the quality of bagasse improved significantly.


New models of level sensors were also installed on all the feed troughs, called Donnelly Chutes, which allowed for a continuous and even feed to the mills. Again, these sensors performed satisfactorily and contributed to the improved extraction numbers. This year was an exceptional year at the Mills in terms of performance.

Posted on April 7, 2015 .

Factory to Market: How Freight and Local Handling Costs Impact Net Stripped Value

As part of the commercial agreement between BSI and farmers, the price of sugar cane is determined by a formula which calculates the Net Stripped Value (NSV) of sugar and molasses. Once this value is calculated, 65% goes to farmers and 35% to BSI as miller. NSV of sugar and molasses is essentially determined by deducting (stripping) from the gross proceeds of all sugar and molasses sold (local and export), those costs that are incurred in getting the sugar from factory to market.

In the case of export markets, which is roughly 90% of production, the most significant costs are:
1. Local Handling – transporting and handling sugar from the factory at Tower Hill to ocean going ships anchored offshore Belize City using a fleet of tugs and barges. This service is provided by BSI on the basis of a Handling Charge that is reviewed periodically. The current charges for handling export sugar and molasses have been in effect since the 2009 crop and are BZ$76.89 and BZ$49 per ton respectively.
2. Stevedoring – loading the sugar from barges to ship. This service is provided by the Port of Belize (POB) and the costs are as invoiced by the POB.
3. Freight – transporting the sugar from Belize to the export market, mainly Europe. This service is procured via external shipping brokers and the costs are as contracted for particular vessels.

One of the key challenges to growing the sugar industry in Belize is the slow, inefficient and costly logistical process for getting raw sugar to the export markets. The absence of a proper deep water port facility within range of the Tower Hill mill means that sugar needs to undertake a long, 122 mile trip up the New River and down the coast to load sugar directly from barges onto export ships. The size of the grabs the ships have to use, and the absence of modern loading gear, mean ships can be in Belize for three to four weeks loading the sugar. A similar sized ship could be loaded in less than 24 hours in countries with mechanical port facilities.

The logistics limit the size of ships that can be contracted to load in Belize given the slow loading rate of around 700 tons a day. The use of small vessels adds to the cost and in addition are harder to contract, because there are fewer and fewer being built. Those that can be contracted demand a higher price because of the slow loading arrangements.

Given current constraints, it is important to have a good system in place for getting the lowest costs possible. Tate and Lyle Sugars (TLS) co-ordinates the freight. TLS shipping agents have a good knowledge of the market and the the freight companies that use smaller vessels. They put this knowledge together to look for the best deals, including when to fix freight contracts for shorter or longer terms, depending on the market conditions. All freight contracts then go out to competitive tender to ensure the best prices. This all helps reduce the cost for both BSI and farmers.

Longer-term, increasing loading rates to reduce freight cost is a high priority for BSI, and a pre-requisite to growing the industry. This will require major investment, as it will require modernisation of the fleet and new loading facilities. BSI is in discussion with government and development partners
in search of a solution.

Posted on April 7, 2015 .

Monthly Average Rainfall

The graph shows rainfall recorded at Tower Hill in 2012, 2013, and up to October 19th, 2014. May marks the initiation of the rainy season and as can be noted, there was a significant increase of 268.7 mm from the month of April to the month of May for this year. June, July and August were considerably lower in comparison to the months of 2012 and 2013 resulting in dryer conditions than usual. This allowed for  more cane to be harvested until the close of the crop season on July 8; weather conditions were also very favorable for planting during these months. Rain for the month of September was well above the mean while up to October 19th, rainfall had decreased by 80.65 mm below the average.

Posted on April 7, 2015 .