Sugar Fest a Success!

BSI/ASR thanks all those who participated in making the first ever Sugar Fest a success, including the participating farmers, Sugar
Industry employees, Corozal Community College Marching Band, Abraxas Band, Chulin the Clown, San Jose Palmar Culture Group, La Inmaculada Credit Union, Development Finance Corporation, Orange Walk House of Culture, Charitable Roots Foundation, Orange Walk Cancer Support Group, Special Olympics and Orange Walk Rotaract Club. A special thanks to the Sugar Industry Research and Development
Institute (SIRDI) for organizing the field games.

The company looks forward to next year’s festival and invites all those who shared in the laughter, fun and games to send their feedback, comments and suggestions about how to make the event even better!

Posted on April 7, 2015 .


The Cane Quality Improvement Program (CQIP) became effective in the 2011 crop season with the commitment of all sugar industry stakeholders to enhance the quantity and quality of sugar production through the implementation of better practices in the cane harvesting and delivery systems.

The CQIP is coordinated and implemented by the Sugar Cane Production Committee (SCPC) with the support of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), cane farmers, and Belize Sugar Industries (BSI). For the past three (3) crop seasons since the initiation of the CQIP, the performance of the sugar industry has shown success and significant progress when compared with the previous crop seasons of 2009 and 2010. The graphs and table below present performance statistics of the sugar industry for the crops from 2009 to 2013.

The introduction of a relative quality-based cane payment system has made the program a success since the cane purity has improved. Although this relative payment is not ideal, it has motivated farmers to organize themselves to deliver fresh, mature and clean cane to the factory through improvements made in their burning, cutting, loading and transporting practices. There has also been improved synchronization between the demand and supply of cane at the factory where each reaping group is assigned a daily tonnage eliminating the long delivery queues, which reduces Kill-to-Mill time. In addition, a key objective is to eliminate the need to stock cane in the yard.

The SCPC takes this opportunity to commend all cane farmers for adopting improved harvesting practices for the past 3 years yielding positive results. While we have improved quality from 2010, there is still more to do to organize and coordinate the harvesting and delivery efforts to stimulate better quality and overall revenues. The SCPC also applauds the good performance of the factory which has been milling exceptionally well with more cane per day than anticipated.

Posted on April 7, 2015 .

MOON PLANTING: Gravitational Pull influences Moisture in Soil

Planting by the moon is an idea as old as agriculture, based both in folklore and superstition, but there are scientific ideas to back it up. The Earth is in a large gravitational field, influenced by both the sun and moon. The tides are highest at the time of the new and the full moon, when sun and moon are lined up with the earth. Just as the moon pulls the tides in the oceans, it also pulls upon the subtle bodies of water, causing moisture to rise in the earth, which encourages growth. The highest amount of moisture is in the soil at this time, and tests have proven that seeds will absorb the most water at the time of the full moon.

At the new moon, the lunar gravity pulls water up, and causes the seeds to swell and burst. This factor, coupled with the increasing moonlight creates balanced root and leaf growth.


In the second quarter the gravitational pull is less, but the
moonlight is strong, creating strong leaf growth. It is generally
a good time for planting, especially two days before the full moon.


After the full moon, as the moon wanes, the energy is drawing
down. The gravitation pull is high, creating more moisture in the soil,
but the moonlight is decreasing, putting energy into the roots.


In the fourth quarter there is decreased gravitational pull and
moonlight, and it is considered a resting period. This is also the
best time to cultivate, harvest, transplant and prune.


Posted on April 7, 2015 .

FROM Sugar Cane, TO Sugar Crystals

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

PREPARATION AT THE CANE YARD: The process of extracting the sucrose buried deep in the sugar cane and converting it into sugar crystals begins at the Cane Yard. This section of the Factory is charged with receiving the cane from the farmers, offloading it safely and then preparing the cane for milling. The preparation stage is vital since the better the cane preparation - the more sugar can be extracted.

The functions at the Cane Yard are coordinated by a foreman and the tasks are carried out by his team, which is comprised of three crane operators, a tipper operator, a heavy duty operator and a cane yard laborer.

CANE FARMERS DELIVERING THEIR CANE: The cane is discharged from the trucks/trailers by either the dumping table (by tilting) or the overhead cranes (by lifting). The cane is released into the feeder carrier, where it is conveyed firstly to the cane knives, where it is cut to pieces by a 2,500 horse power motor and then to the shredder where, as the name implies, the cane is shredded to bits by a 5,030 horse power shredder. Once shredded, the cane is ready to enter the extraction stage. Remember, that the better the cane preparation process, the better the returns to all stakeholders in the industry.

Meet Tower Hill Mill Employees at the Cane Yard:

Meet one of the foremen, Angel Wade, who must ensure that all equipment is functioning properly and make hourly records of temperatures, amperage and oil levels of all machines in his areas. He is the direct contact point between farmers and the mill, and must oversee the orderly discharge of cane from the trucks and trailers to keep the Yard at full efficiency. He is also in charge of ensuring that all safety policies and procedures are observed since the safety of both farmers and employees is central in all of BSI’s operations.


Meet one of the scale clerks, Genaro Baeza, who calculates the weights of trucks or trailers and keeps data of this information. He also issues tickets to farmers once their trucks have been weighed.



Meet one of the tipper operators, Joseito Chan, who is located in the Cane Yard Control room. He must ensure that the Feeder Carrier remains loaded with cane at all times, always mindful not to choke the cane leveler, the knife or the shredder. He must maintain a balance by feeding uniformly from each section of the yard so as to allow a good discharge ratio between the dumping table and the cranes.


Meet two of the mechanics, Teophilus Henry (L) & Farid Carlos (R), who work at the cane yard. They ensure that all machinery is working appropriately in order to maintain order and efficiency in the different phases the cane has to go through at the cane yard.


Meet one of the heavy duty operators, Keith Jones (L), and one of the cane yard laborers, Clifton Palacio (R). They ensure that all cane in the yard or cane spilled over from trucks is loaded in the cane carrier.



Meet one of the crane operators, Jorge Dominguez, who uses the cranes to transport sugar cane to the feeder carrier once the cane has been discharged from the trucks or trailers.

Posted on April 7, 2015 .

CLAC Meeting in Belize

The Latin American and Caribbean Network of Small Fair Trade Producers (CLAC) held its annual meeting in Corozal Town, Belize on May 28-30, 2014.
Fairtrade certified sugar cane farmers from Belize, Cuba, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Jamaica, and Guyana met to exchange experiences, discuss their challenges and receive feedback from fellow cane farmers on how to deal with these challenges. As the majority of these cane farmers belong to the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group, which is directly associated with the European Common Agricultural Policy Reform, cane producers from Mauritius and Fiji were also invited to the meeting. Fairtrade officials also attended the meeting since it was also organized in conjunction with the Fair Trade International- Global Product Management. Several representatives from the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association participated in this meeting.

As small sugar cane farmers face similar challenges around the world, participants looked at how they can take their future into their hands, and become ready especially for the new environment to be created in the European Union beyond 2017. Participants agreed to use sugar specific indicators which can be measured to demonstrate impact and achievements and assist them in lowering their costs of production and achieve efficiency. With the assistance of Fairtrade/Producer Network Support, participants also agreed to involve millers, research institutes and other relevant stakeholder institutions to assist them in their new initiatives to begin to implement the specific indicators.
The meeting concluded successfully with a field tour where participants were able to observe harvesting practices carried out in Belize. Participants departed for their respective countries with a commitment to strengthen the relationships and solidarity among cane farmers around the world.

Posted on April 7, 2015 .

Steps for Successful Land Preparation

planting image.jpg

A good land preparation is the foundation for good cane growth and maximum cane production over a cane cycle of 6-7 years. If the foundation is well done, the cane field will flourish. Here are some simple steps to follow:

1. 20 -25 days before planting cane on a fallow land or before replanting, spray 1.6 liters per acre of glyphosate to kill the old ratoons as well as grass weeds.
2.Best results for a good land preparation are obtained, when the soil is humid but not wet.
3.Respect the sequence of land preparation:
•Deep Plow to uproot the old ratoon or remaining roots.
•Cross sub-soiling (rippers should be fixed at 50 cm apart and the work depth at least 30-35 cm deep).
4. On sandy soil sub-soiling is not necessary.
5. On heavy clay soil a second plow may be necessary.
6.Harrowing (a fine soil with no lumps should be obtained)
7.Furrowing at 4.5-5 feet apart and 1 feet deep is done for single row planting. Straight rows are very important to reduce damage from trucks and loaders.
8.To be prepared for mechanical harvesting (to face labor shortage in future) dual row planting at 50cm x 50 cm x 90cm and at least 30 cm deep is advised.
9.Identify proper drains and setting them up is key.

If the 1st plowing (No 1 above) is done in one direction, the 1st sub-soiling should be done in the opposite direction and harrowing against the direction of sub-soiling. Finally furrows (No 7 above) are drilled in the opposite direction of the harrowing direction (No 6 above), to obtain a better soil preparation.

Posted on April 7, 2015 .

If cane prices are going down in 2017, why re-plant more?

Replant More Edited Graph.PNG

Many farmers are asking this question. It is a good question. Replanting sugar costs a lot. Farmers have to consider the cost of seed, land preparation, fertilisers, pesticides, losing a year’s harvest until the cane matures. Farmers would have to invest time, money and effort at a time when sugar prices are falling.

The answer to this question can be found in the scale, yield and revenue. BSCFA and SIRDI demonstration plots have proven that it is possible to increase cane yields on existing land to double current averages. Take a look at the graph on the left showing Mr. Lamberto Patt’s results from his fields in the San Narciso Branch. In the first bar, Mr. Patt was producing 18 tons of cane on an acre of land. With the right husbandry and replanting practices, he has increased to 36 tons of cane on the same piece of land as can be seen in the second bar. With the right practices, he will receive twice the revenue from the same area of land.

The European Union has made clear that it expects European sugar prices to fall to around world levels in 2017. But it also considers there will still be a market for imported cane sugar into the EU for the most competitive industries. The way the Belize industry can become more competitive is to reduce production costs. On the field side, increasing yield per acre is the best way to reduce cost per ton of cane. We also need to improve efficiency in production at the mill. It is good that the mill is performing much better than before – having processed around 20% more sugar in comparison to the same period last year. We also need to improve the efficiency of getting the sugar from the factory to the ship.

But ultimately it is about improving competitiveness by increasing production. The more sugar we can produce at the mill, the lower the production cost per unit, and the more competitive the industry becomes. But this is not the responsibility of just one or two farmers. It is a collective responsibility of all farmers and the mill.

So the answer to the question, “WHY RE-PLANT MORE CANE?” is because farmers will receive more revenue for improving the yields on their existing land. To make the Belize industry competitive and sustainable, all farmers must produce more cane. This is why replanting support is available for you from SIRDI, BSCFA, BSI and the European Union, through the revolving credit fund administered by DFC and La Inmaculada Credit Union.

Posted on April 7, 2015 .

SIRDI Inaugurates New Headquarters!

The new headquarters for the Sugar Industry Research and Development Institute (SIRDI) was officially inaugurated on Tuesday, May 19, 2014. The Government of Belize, European Union, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), BSI, BSCFA, SIRDI and farmers joined together to celebrate this milestone event for the Sugar Industry. The construction of the building was financed by the European Union through its Accompanying Measures for Sugar Program (AMS) and the Belize Sugar Industry Development Fund (SIDF).

SIRDI will now be located at mile 66.5 on the Philip Goldson Highway in the Corozal District to facilitate strategic access to industry stakeholders.Construction began in November 2013 after realizing the need to build a proper facility to provide research, technical and extension services for farmers. With its new facility in place, SIRDI will be able to provide a wider range of services and more outreach to cane farmers! Industry stakeholders congratulate SIRDI on this new milestone!

Posted on April 7, 2015 .