Sunday, November 21, 2010


Do you think GINGER, HABANEROS, or PINEAPPLES or something like that will replace SUGAR in the North of Belize? What will be the next big export crop? That is the question that government politicians and bureaucrats and farmers in the North are contemplating.
Essentially the SUGAR business in Belize is dead. Primarily because the farmers cannot get themselves organized to improve quantity and quality of cane production. We are seeing the death throes of the industry established to colonial exploitation rules now.
The problems are not ALL of their ( small cane farmers ) own making. The European Union has cut subsidies, tariff protection has been canceled, or on the way out. The cane farmers of the North have lost $15.4 million more this year, due to the European Union price cuts. No attempt apparently has been made by the factory to add value to the product by selling packaged sugar and export to markets like China, Arab countries and Japan. We cannot even produce enough sugar to sell to the USA anymore.
The commercial banks will no longer lend seasonal start up money for the coming sugar crop.
The Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, while blasted by his OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER, Johnny Briceno, as having no business and economic sense, the PM is in fact doing, by not doing, the SMARTEST THING he can do. That is keeping political and government meddling out of the SUGAR and CITRUS industry and let the private sector solve their own problems. Agriculture must diversify and that is a good thing. With the internet and all those smart marketing academics coming out of our local Universities, the opportunities are endless.
Consolidation is going on in both industries, both CITRUS and SUGAR. In sugar, I look to see the number of cane producers reduced to larger scale operations by buy outs of land, or leasing. 10% of the existing cane producers can produce the same output or more than the current thousands of small farmers. Smaller land areas using irrigation will out produce the current old methods the experts say and by example in other places at a volume of 12 to 1. In the end: determination, the WILL and money is going to consolidate the sugar industry into being once again a viable economic export crop.
With the cut off of preferential tariffs and the lack of support by small cane farmer groups to improve their own production and quality through agricultural technological change, the industry as it exist right now is just dead, or dying. It will probably recover, but in a changed different form. In the meantime, small Northern farmers better search for a new crop and way to organize themselves, to produce something else for export. That is the future, the survival of the fittest. You learn to adapt and change, or perish. Ask the English in the U.K. who built their economy of the recent quarter century around North Sea Oil and are now counting on the oil from the Maldives ( Falkland Islands ) shelf to replace the lack of North Sea oil now gone. The UK failed to adapt to changing economics and technological production. The days of EMPIRE are gone, at least THEIR EMPIRE.

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