The United States Ambassador in Guatemala, Mr. William W. Popp, on May 20th visited sugar cane plantations to learn about the labor conditions that the Guatemalan Sugar Industry provides to the thousands of workers that each year participate in the agricultural and industrial area. Ambassador Popp was accompanied by Mr. Mauricio Cortes, from the US State Department.
The visit allowed Ambassador Popp and Mr. Cortes to converse with workers from various areas of the sugarcane agricultural process. At the Tehuantepec Farm, in Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa, Escuintla, they learned about manual sowing, manual overseeding, semi-mechanized overseeding and the application of nutrients. Likewise, they were able to share with the workers of the first mechanized cutting front, made up only of women.
During lunch, he spoke with officials from Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua- about the importance of all associated sugar producers complying with the working conditions of formal, dignified, and decent employment, where the non-existence of child labor stands out. All of this is the result of the corporate governance model that the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has, since 2000, for labor and environmental aspects based on national legislation and international commitments.
Guatemalan Sugar Industry an economic engine
It is worth mentioning that the United States is an important market for Guatemalan Sugar since it is the second destination for sugar exports. The sugar agribusiness is a source of prosperity for the country, it generates more than 56 thousand direct jobs and 280 thousand indirect jobs.
More than 1.8 million people depend on the productive activities of the sector. Similarly, the economic footprint amounts to $1,165 million annually. Of that amount, $394 million are destined to the payment of wages and labor benefits.
On the other hand, the sugar activity maintains commercial relationships with 6,325 suppliers of inputs and services, who in turn generate more job opportunities, thus boosting the national economy, since they are present in almost 90% of the country’s municipalities.
During their visit, Ambassador Popp and Mr. Cortes were able to learn about the working conditions in situ, and it was agreed to follow-up and further study other issues.
“The doors of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry are open,” said Maria Silvia Pineda, CSR and Sustainability Manager of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association.