The Guatemalan Sugar Industry acquires commitments to preserve and restore biodiversity

Presentation of the guidelines for the conservation and restoration of biological diversity

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry, with the technical advice of the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC- and with the support of the Biodiversity and Business program in Central America and the Dominican Republic of the German Technical Cooperation -GIZ-, announced the commitments and “Guidelines for the Preservation and Restoration of the Biological Diversity in the Guatemalan Production of Sugar”.

Aware that Guatemala is one of the 20 megadiverse countries in the world, the directors of all the sugar mills, members of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association, approved the guidelines to take specific actions to meet the goal of care and restore the biodiversity in the sugarcane zone.

“In the agro-landscape where sugarcane is grown were documented a third of all the birds know to live in the country. 248 species of birds have been identified in the forests and forest segments within the land where sugarcane grows, 55 of these species are protected according to international and national conservation lists, in addition 78 species of migratory birds find refuge in the sugar cane agro-landscape. ”, explained Alex Guerra, director of the ICC.

“Caring for this biological wealth in our environment is fundamental; thats why we’ve made commitments to carry out our operations in a sustainable way, prioritizing conservation and restoration so that the present and future generations can enjoy the flora and fauna that take refuge in the sugarcane zone”, said Alfredo Vila, president of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua-.

Result of over 5 years of investigation

After more than 5 years of studies at the sugarcane landscape, ICC experts documented the existence of a great biological wealth. In Guatemala the sugarcane grows at the south of the country, in a landscape mixed with forests and other plantations.

With the technical support of the ICC and GIZ,  guidelines for the conservation and restoration of biological diversity in the production of Guatemalan Sugar were developed.

Bird seeing in forest within cane fields in GuatemalaThe Guatemalan Sugar Industry will have the scientific advice of the ICC to implement the guidelines, according to the natural conditions of each work area.

“The biological wealth that provides refuge to multiple species in the sugarcane agro-landscape is a treasure that must be taken care of.  It is crucial to protect the biological biodiversity in the world and here, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has taken important commitments to allow Guatemala’s natural legacy to be perpetuated and inherit it to future generations” added Alfredo Vila president of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua-.

Click here to see the full document (in Spanish).

Sugar producers from Central America launch campaign to prevent child labor

Sugar producers from Central America launch campaign to prevent child labor

The Sugar Producers of the Central American Isthmus Association (AICA) and the sugar organizations of the six countries in the region launched the campaign “Yo te cuido!” (I take care of you!) with the aim of cont raising awareness about the importance of preventing child labor in the sector.

“In Guatemala we promote the Better Families program to eradicate Child Labor and promote actions from the family so that children attend school and have a life full of joy and learning,” said Maria Silvia Pineda, director of the Guatemalan Sugar Foundation –Fundazucar-.

Through workshops, talks, coordination meetings, contests and multiple information materials, the campaign aims to reach, among others, workers, sugarcane producers, as well as members of the communities in the areas of influence of the sugar sector throughout the Central American region.

The campaign will provide information about child labor, the negative causes and effects, the legal consequences, also with data and promoting a paradigm based on respect and care for childhood and adolescence.

Sugar producers from Central America launch campaign to prevent child laborAccording to Juan Carlos Fernandez, Executive Director of AICA, “the sugar sector has implemented multiple and successful programs and initiatives against child labor throughout Central America for several years, with which it has managed to change the reality of the sector. This campaign advances in the consolidation of the results that have been obtained”.

Promoter Associations

This 2022 child labor prevention campaign is promoted by the Sugar Producers of the Central American Isthmus Association (AICA) and its member organizations: the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association (Asazgua), the Sugar Association of El Salvador, the Association of Sugar Producers of Honduras (APAH), the National Committee of Sugar Producers of Nicaragua (CNPA), the Industrial Agricultural League of Sugar Cane of Costa Rica (LAICA) and the Association of Sugar and Alcohol of Panama (AZUCALPA)

In addition, it has the technical support of the International Labor Organization (ILO), as well as the collaboration of the Coca-Cola Company and the Central American Integration Network for Corporate Social Responsibility (INTEGRARSE).

Local and subnational governments and the application of the GFB 2030 through transformative actions

We invite you to register and participate in the event “Local and subnational governments and the application of the GFB 2030 through transformative actions” organized by the framework convention on biological diversity, which aims to discuss and exchange experiences for the development of sustainable projects in the present and for the future.

Representatives of local and national governments, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, activists and stakeholders in the biodiversity agenda will participate, WBio2022. The agenda: WBIO2022_Program

WBio2022 Agenda

WBio2022 Agenda

Cengicaña celebrates 30 years of contributing to the development of the country

Cengicana 30 anniversary - Azúcar de Guatemala

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Guatemalan Center for Research and Training of Sugar Cane -Cengicaña-, a union organization that with its work has contributed to the growth, development, and competitiveness of the Sugar Industry.

With a long-term vision, Cengicaña was founded in 1992 by the member sugar mills of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua-, as a research center that generates knowledge and technology transfer for the agricultural and industrial equipment of the associated mills.

Cengicaña supports the sustainable and profitable development of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry through five programs:

  • Variety development
  • Integrated pest management
  • Agronomy
  • Industrial research and,
  • training and transfer

The CG02-163 sugarcane variety leads the Guatemalan Sugar IndustryIn these 30 years, Cengicaña has developed 33 Guatemalan sugarcane varieties that have higher yields, are more resistant to diseases and are also adaptable to the varied environmental conditions of the Guatemalan sugarcane zone. These varieties developed by Guatemalan experts currently occupy 60% of the cultivated area under management. The CG02-163 variety ranks first in extension and yield.

Technologies and methodologies have also been developed for the Integrated Management of Pests that attack sugarcane cultivation, such as the Salivosa Bug, Borer and Rodents, among others.

Through the agronomy program, the use of technologies for plant fertilization and nutrition, irrigation and precision agriculture is developed and exploited using data, maps and satellite images to analyze soil types, water balance, agroecological zones for strategic location of varieties, fertility and productivity analysis, as well as pest mapping.

Smart irrigation system - Azúcar de GuatemalaExperts from Cengicaña developed CengiRiegos, an application that uses information to apply to the crop only the amount of water it needs, which has made it possible to optimize the use of water and costs for irrigation. Currently, this application is used in 35% of the cultivated area with efficient irrigation systems.

Cengicaña has also innovated in industrial research to achieve a reduction in the loss of sucrose and to obtain efficiency in the generation of renewable energy, a factor that has supported the Guatemalan Sugar Industry to generate up to 30% of the country’s electricity demand.

The training and transfer program has had more than 5,500 training events with which it has reached more than 137,000 employees of the Sugar Industry. In addition, it has developed events to share the technology developed with the sugar mills through symposiums, specialized committees and technical events with field trips and participation in congresses.

With this 30-year work, Cengicaña has received important recognitions such as the Ulises Rojas Order, the Sugar Order and recognitions from universities, among others.

We congratulate Cengicaña for its 30th anniversary and the leaders who had the vision to anticipate the challenges to seek the competitiveness and sustainability of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry actively participates in the UN Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions Network

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry actively participates in the UN Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions Network

In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously establishes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a total of 169 goals and 230 related global indicators designed to stimulate concrete actions.

In order to comply with the implementation of the SDGs, in 2018 the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs created the Global Network for Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions with links between the sustainable development goals -ODS- number 6 (water and sanitation) and number 7 (Ensuring access to sustainable, reliable and modern energy for all) with multiple stakeholders from all regions including Guatemala with the participation of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua- (

In order to achieve Sustainable Development, it is important not only to include the economic, social and environmental axes but to go a little further, and that is why proposes five fundamental dimensions on which to base it: people, planet, prosperity, peace and alliances. These dimensions are present in its objectives and goals, which work in an integrated and indivisible way to address the challenges in a global way and so that they can be applied universally, always with an objective vision of the different realities, capacities and levels of development of actors at the national, regional or local level, as well as at the business, academic or social level.

The Global Network for Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions, works with the vision of a world in which there is an equitable and sustainable use and management of water and energy resources for all, in support of human well-being, the integrity of ecosystems and a strong and inclusive economy under the umbrella for Sustainable Development.

The objective of the Network is to provide a global platform for all stakeholders to improve their capacities and signal their high-level commitment to the integrated approach of SDG6 and SDG7 to support the implementation of the SDGs by fulfilling the call of the Secretary General of the United Nations to mobilize at all levels, global, local, and social. For this reason, Asazgua has taken the initiative and, as always, has taken a step forward working hand in hand with the Network to share its experiences and the projects developed.

For this reason, a series of activities and publications have been carried out to create spaces for dialogue to share best practices and experiences on water-energy interrelationships and their contributions to other SDGs and reinforce capacity building, focusing on planning, the design, implementation and monitoring of policies, regulations, business models and investments to effectively manage the interlinkages between water and energy.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has forced us to make unforeseen changes in our lives, but it has given us the opportunity to analyze the need to improve and share knowledge and experiences, since the time to act is now, which is why the actions of the Network have not stopped and have been carried out virtually. Below, we present the main activities in which the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association has participated.

On September 24th, 2021, a side event on the “Energy Pact of the Global Network for Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions” was held in the framework of the High-Level Dialogue on Energy. This event showcased the three participating organizations of the Network with voluntary commitments: The Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association –Asazgua, – Itaipu Binacional and Canal de Isabel II, which was presented by the Under Secretary of the United Nations Mr. Liu Zhenmin. During the event, the commitments of the three institutions were presented and discussed and they explained how they support the transformative paths in energy and water and expanded actions supporting the objectives to face climate change.

Months ago, in June, the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association and the Spanish water company of the Community of Madrid, Canal de Isabel II, each undertook to expand their electricity generation to cover 100% of their electricity demand with 100% clean renewable sources.

In addition, Asazgua promised to meet at least 30% of Guatemala’s electricity demand during the three dry months of the year through renewable energy, increase ethanol production for transportation by 20%, and develop a new way of bioenergy from biowaste.

In June, the Global Network for Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions, in cooperation with its member Asazgua, brought together multiple stakeholders to discuss and showcase existing initiatives and disseminate information on bioenergy. This event was moderated by Jinlei Feng, IRENA Program Officer, and had the participation of Mr. Ivan Vera, UNDESA Advisor and a panel of experts made up of representatives of the Government of the State of Sao Paulo in Brazil, IIASA, UNICA in Brazil and Canal of Isabel II in Spain, all shared experiences on integrated water and energy solutions related to bioenergy.

Likewise, Asazgua participated in various events on sustainable water and energy solutions to address climate change during the Decade of Action. At the central event, world leaders discussed the interrelationships and interdependence of the water and energy sector and showcased existing initiatives to accelerate the adoption of integrated water and energy solutions.

Last November during the COP26 side event: Sustainable water and energy solutions that support climate change objectives during the Decade of Action and beyond, there was participation and presentation of the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC-.

Among the results obtained is the preparation of the report on sustainable water and energy solutions to address climate change with the collaboration of Asazgua, which aims to disseminate the debate of experts and public policies on sustainable water and energy solutions that address climate change in order to facilitate the exchange of information, improve local, national and international cooperation and stimulate collaborative development actions that “leave no one behind” in terms of water supply and sanitation, access to sustainable energy and protection against possible negative impacts of climate change.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry gets ready with 900 thousand trees

Tree nurseries of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry for reforestation

ThThe Guatemalan Sugar Industry and the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC- have 900,000 trees in 63 nurseries as part of the Reforestation Plan. In the nurseries, 26 species of trees are grown, such as cedar, mahogany, eucalyptus, pine, among others.

The nurseries are in 39 municipalities in the departments of Escuintla, Sacatepequez, Santa Rosa, Chimaltenango, Jutiapa, Retalhuleu, San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Solola and Suchitepequez.

Since 2011, the Sugar Industry has implemented the National Reforestation Plan for the recovery of forests on the South of Guatemala. In 2021, with the support of the ICC, the figure of 6.8 million trees planted was reached thanks to this program. It is expected to reach 7.7 million trees planted with the 2022 reforestation.

Importance of nurseries

Azúcar de Guatemala - Viveros para reforestacionThe nurseries in which the trees are prepared for the National Reforestation Plan are managed by municipalities, institutions, companies, and communities. These inter-institutional alliances help to promote forest culture in the communities where they are implemented.

ICC supports with seeds and supplies necessary for cultivation, as well as technical advice in conjunction with the National Institute of Forests -INAB-. The villagers provide the space for the nursery, the labor for all the daily tasks, and the land.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry adopts actions to optimize water

Water cooling system Guatemalan Sugar

In the production of sugar, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has implemented new technologies and processes, both in the cultivation of sugar cane and in industrial activities, to reduce its consumption of water.

Water cooling system Guatemalan SugarGuatemala is a country with high vulnerability to the effects of Climate Change and agriculture is one of the sectors most affected by climatic variations. That is why the Sugar Industry has implemented more efficient irrigation systems, which use less water and apply only the amount of the vital liquid that the plant needs.

Likewise, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has invested in systems for the reuse of water in the sugar mills. The water used in the manufacturing process is taken to a cooling system; since it comes out at high temperature, where after being cooled it returns to the factory, through a recirculation system, to be used again.

The Water Footprint of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry

According to a study carried out by the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC- the water footprint of the Guatemalan sugar cane crop for the 2019-2020 zafra was estimated at 110.35 m3 of water per ton of sugar cane, where the Irrigation water represented 21% of the total water footprint. Rainwater represented 73% of the total water footprint.

Guatemalan Sugar irrigation systemEach ton of sugar cane produced in Guatemala uses 47% less water than the cane produced worldwide, whose results may be related especially to the high sugar cane yields per hectare that the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has achieved.

Of the crops that are most produced worldwide, sugar cane is the one with the smallest water footprint. In addition, the  experts of the Guatemalan Sugarcane Research and Training Center -Cengicaña- have developed a mobile application to optimize the use of irrigation water in sugarcane called Cengiriegos, which allows only the water it needs to be applied to the plant.

The carbon footprint of Guatemalan Sugar is one of the lowest internationally

The carbon footprint of Guatemalan Sugar is one of the lowest internationally

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry, committed to the sustainable management of the environment and the mitigation of climate change, has made efforts in its production processes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; as a result, the carbon footprint of Guatemalan Sugar is one of the lowest internationally.

The carbon footprint of Guatemalan Sugar for the 2019-2020 harvest was estimated at 0.33kg of CO2eq for each kilogram of sugar produced, which is among the lowest in relation to others worldwide, according to the Emissions Inventory Study of Greenhouse Gases and Carbon Footprint of Guatemalan Sugar by the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC-.

ICC experts carried out an inventory of emissions generated by the burning of sugarcane biomass in the field, use of nitrogen fertilizers and other fertilizers and agricultural inputs, change of use and land cover, use of fuels for agricultural and transport activities, generation of electricity for internal consumption, consumption of electrical energy from the national interconnected system, inputs for industrial processes and industrial wastewater.

The result of this balance, between what we emit, fix, and avoid is the carbon footprint. Guatemalan Sugar has a footprint of “0.33kg CO2eq / kg sugar” (0.33 kilograms of CO2 equivalent per kilogram of sugar), it is a very small footprint compared to other foods and to other sugar-producing countries in the world.

For example, our carbon footprint is lower than that of producers in the United States, the European Union, Thailand, and the United Kingdom, among others. This means that the Guatemalan Sugar production process is more environmentally friendly.

Guatemalan Sugar gallery forests

It is important to mention that there are activities that generate emissions, but there are also activities that reduce or avoid them; for example, when cane grows, it absorbs or stores CO2 from the environment, which it needs to grow. The Guatemalan Sugar Industry also has natural forests that store 1,415,638 tons of CO2 equivalent.

Likewise, the generation of energy with the bagasse or biomass of the cane prevents up to 4 million tons of CO2 from reaching the environment per year, since it uses a renewable resource and not fossil fuels such as mineral coal. In the Zafra season, the Sugar Industry supplies around 30% of the energy that the country uses, this renewable energy.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry ends the 2020/2021 Zafra, driven by a Guatemalan sugarcane variety

End of zafra 2020-2021 in Guatemala

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry ended the suar cane harvest and sugar production season driven by the CG02-163 sugarcane variety developed by scientists from the Guatemalan Center for Research and Training in Sugar Cane -Cengicaña-; this is a high-yield cane, resistant to diseases and adapted to climate variability.

The CG02-163 sugarcane variety leads the Guatemalan Sugar IndustryThe CG02-163 sugarcane variety, currently occupying the largest planted area in the country, has a yield ranging from 11.5 to 12.5 tons of sugar per cultivated hectare. This variety produces an average of 1.4 tons more per hectare than the second-place variety CP72-2086, which comes from Canal Point in Florida, United States.

This contributed to the production for the 2020/2021 harvest being 55,758,979 quintals of sugar or 2,564,901 metric tons of sugar, with a cultivated area of 253 thousand hectares. This harvest was challenging due to the conditions presented by the pandemic and all the biosanitary measures were taken for the prevention of COVID-19, both in the workplace and in the communities of the South of Guatemala.

“Research and development is a fundamental pillar for the Sugar Industry, it has contributed to improve efficiency each harvest and has allowed us to be more competitive worldwide. The development of cane varieties is one of the great contributions of the research center, until this year we have developed, through the natural crossing of plants, 33 Guatemalan cane varieties that are more productive, resistant to pests and climate change”, commented Luis Miguel Paiz, general manager of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua-.

Renewable energy cogeneration

As part of the research, sugarcane residues are also used to produce alcohol and the generation of renewable energy and during the 2020/2021 harvest, cogeneration mills contributed with 30% of the energy consumed in the country, reaching peaks in some days that reached 46%.

Renewable energy produce with sugarcane biomassIn that period, the Sugar Industry generated 1,844 (GWh) gigawatt-hours of renewable energy to deliver to the grid; the equivalent of 2 times the consumption of all the Municipal Electric Companies of Guatemala for 1 year.

Zafra is development for Guatemala

The zafra begins in November and ends in May of the following year and, for the South of Guatemala, it is a season of economic reactivation since it generates more than 54 thousand direct jobs and the hiring of more than 6,325 suppliers, large, medium and small of products and services, who also become employers and multiply opportunities for the local population. The sugar sector generates more than 270 thousand indirect jobs each year.

Production of Guatemalan SugarThe sugar mills associated with Asazgua operate under a strict labor and environmental policy and distribute each year around US$402 million in wages and salaries, in addition to providing complementary health services to their collaborators. In a study prepared by Asazgua, the economic footprint or spill of sugar in Guatemala is more than US$ 1,188 million and reaches 90% of the country’s municipalities.

Guatemala has one of the most efficient sugar shipping terminals in the world

Expogranel, Guatemalan Sugar shipping terminal

Expogranel, located in Puerto Quetzal, is the specialized terminal for handling and shipping bulk sugar in Guatemala, which has positioned as one of the most efficient terminals in the world.

With a system of conveyor belts, shipping cranes and hydraulic bridges, the terminal can receive up to 800 metric tons of sugar per hour and fill a bulk ship at a rate of 2,000 metric tons of bulk sugar per hour on average.

Almacen de azucar en ExpogranelThe hydraulic bridges, sugar launchers, automatic samplers, conveyor belt system, shipping cranes, among others, were designed and manufactured in Guatemala with the support of the Sugar Industry.

Similarly, the bag terminal has an efficient operation that allows it to operate 10 trucks per hour to fill containers with bags of sugar. This design, specialized equipment and professional staff have made Expogranel a fundamental piece for the growth and competitiveness of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry.

The terminal has a capacity to store 58,000 metric tons of sugar in bags.

Before Expogranel existed, a ship of 35 thousand metric tons was loaded in 30 days and today it is done in an average of 18 hours. And it has a sugar shipping capacity of more than 3,500 tons in bags per day.

In addition, the Expogranel laboratory stands out for the reliability and impartiality of its results accredited with the international standard ISO 17025 and the specialization it possesses.