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.