The start of the Zafra season contributes to the reactivation of the economy

Guatemala Zafra season contributes to the reactivation of the economy

The start of the Zafra contributes to the reactivation of the economy. The activities of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry generates more than 54 thousand direct jobs and 270 thousand indirect ones.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry is an economic engine for the country since it generates an economic footprint of more than US$ 1,188 million each year, which reaches 90% of the country’s municipalities and each year generates more than 54 thousand direct jobs and distribute more than US$ 402 million in wages and salaries.

Guatemala Zafra contributes to the economyIn addition, the Sugar Industry hires more than 6,325 supplier companies (large, medium, and small) of products and services, who also become employers and multiply the opportunities for the population.

The 2021-2022 Zafra will take place in challenging conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry continues with strict biosecurity measures both in the field and in the factory.

“The Zafra is the harvest season for sugarcane and sugar production, which takes place from November to May. Our commitment every year is to improve our processes to be more and more efficient and develop our operation in a responsible way with our neighbors”, commented Luis Miguel Paiz, General Manager of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua-.

Technology, the basis of efficiency

In the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, systems and processes have been implemented to optimize the use of water for the irrigation of sugarcane; likewise, the sugar mills have implemented systems for the reuse of water and thus reduce the use of this resource. It is important to note that the sugar cane obtains from the rain about 72% of the water it needs to grow.

water footprint

Research and development is a fundamental pillar for the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, it has contributed to improve efficiency and competitiveness each harvest. The development of varieties of sugar cane is one of the great contributions of the research center, and through the natural crossing of plants, 33 varieties of Guatemalan sugar cane have been developed that are more productive, resistant to pests and climate change.

Health professionals are trained with the “Health Comes First” program of Fundazucar

Health professionals are trained thanks to Fundazúcar's “Health Comes First” program

More than 437 health professionals from 65 health posts and health centers on the South of Guatemala are trained with the “Health Comes First” program of the Sugar Foundation -Fundazucar- in alliance with the Ministry of Health and Social Assistance with the aim of promoting health preventive in the communities.

Since 2016 Fundazucar, in alliance with the Ministry of Health, has promoted the innovative program “Health Comes First”, which trains public health workers to develop technical skills and an attitude of service.

In addition, joint prevention actions are carried out against COVID-19 and vector-borne diseases such as dengue, Zika and / or chinkunguya through the education and training of human resources in the health sector and in the communities of the South of Guatemala.

Some of the actions that have been carried out as part of the “Health Comes First” program are:

  • Delivery of the Protocol “Plan for the prevention, containment and response to cases of COVID-19” from the Ministry of Health to 65 health services of the South of Guatemala.
  • Trainings for 500 health professionals distributed in 12 face-to-face and / or virtual training workshops on the COVID-19 protocol of the Ministry of Health and preventive health promotion, with an emphasis on the “1,000-day window” and diseases caused by vectors such as Zika, Dengue and Chinkunguya; with 93% attendance.
  • Technical support to health professionals for the use and updating of epidemiological data analysis, with the aim of developing a culture of analysis of the information produced for making timely decisions.
  • Nine deliveries of Personal Protective Equipment -EPP- to 917 health workers in the priority area of the South of Guatemala to protect health workers on the first line of attention to COVID-19.
  • Participation of the Fundazucar team in 70 Nutritional Brigades for the active search for children with Acute Malnutrition, in coordination with the Ministry of Health and the Secretary of Food and Nutritional Security in 10 municipalities of 4 departments of the South of Guatemala.

“The Guatemalan Sugar Industry promotes the development and well-being of the communities through a responsible operation and the execution of social programs aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals -SDG-“, affirmed Maria Silvia Pineda, Sustainability Manager of -Asazgua- and director of Fundazucar.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry works hard on Soil conservation practices

practicas de conservacion de suelos

Soil conservation are practices to stop or avoid erosion, conserve the soil, and improve its fertility and productivity and the Guatemalan Sugar Industry is committed to enforce such measures.

The Guatemalan Center for Research and Training of Sugarcane -Cengicaña- published in 1994 the first study of soils in the sugarcane zone and since 2012, it has been working on the subject with the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC- for the development and implementation of practices for the conservation and sustainable use of soils.

Among the practices are:

  • Soil analysis: this is the basic tool to know the properties of the soil and the availability of nutrients and physical and chemical characteristics which are analyzed by sampling the areas, the region’s climate, sun radiation, thermal amplitude, topography, inclination, and risks of erosion among others.
  • Soil conservation structures and use of vegetation are implemented on the sides of the roads.
  • The protection of wetlands, forest areas and natural water courses is promoted.
  • Sowing the appropriate sugarcane that best adapts to each soil, based on its agronomic characteristics, resistance to pests and adaptation to climatic variations.
  • Sugarcane cultivation is renewed every 5 years to maintain its yield, therefore, in some suitable areas this renewal is used to nourish the soil through the Green Fertilizer program of the sugar industry.

Sustainable practices to maintain soil fertility

The application of nutrients is vital to maintain the fertility of the soils and derived from the analysis of the fields, the strategies for their use are determined, among which are:

 Use of green fertilizer

Crotalaria flowerThe Green Fertilizer program of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry is an ecological measure of planting legume plants that provide the soil with nitrogen and thus avoid the use of commercial products. When legumes are mixed with the soil, they provide organic matter that improves the texture and structure of the soil and promotes the development of microorganisms that are beneficial for crops.

Use of organic fertilizers

Organic matter improves the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the soil, favoring a greater availability of nutrients for plants and improving the health of the soil in general.

In the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, significant amounts of organic waste are generated as by-products that have high agronomic value, including filter mud, ash, and vinasse.

    • Filter mud is a residue from the manufacture of sugar and provides the soil with phosphorus, calcium, and nitrogen, among others. It is estimated that each harvest produces more than 750,000 tons of this residue that is used to nourish fields.
    • Vinasse is a liquid residue from the distillation of alcohol and is mainly made up of water, organic matter and minerals that benefit the soil.
    • The ash, mixed with filter cake, is beneficial for soils with acidic Ph.

Rainwater harvesting

Acequia y pozo de filtracion

Rainwater is captured in ditches and wells; this is an agronomic practice that contributes to the recharge of groundwater. This agronomic practice is responsible for the environment, contributes to the recharge of groundwater, to mitigate the erosion of the soil by precipitation and to avoid floods.


Guatemala Sugar Industry ForestThe Guatemalan Sugar Industry has 2,507 hectares of natural forests, which are protected and cared for. The reforestation and conservation of forests on the banks of rivers help to recharge water, to conserve soils by avoiding erosion and are also natural barriers that prevent floods and serve as home to species of flora and fauna.

Soil preparation

The soil is prepared for sowing: the objective of this practice is to prepare a good soil base for the optimal development of the plantation.

    • In sandy soils there is minimal tillage to avoid impact on the natural conditions of the soil.
    • In addition, there are minimum tillage or conservation practices to preserve the soil.

Strip cultivation

Crotalaria abono verdeIt is done during each crop renewal, they plant lines with green crops such as legumes alternating with lines of sugar cane, that is done in renewal batches.

The legume incorporates nitrogen and reduces soil erosion caused by water, wind and to make more efficient use of land.

Level curves

Information from drones or satellite images is used to determine the topography or relief of the area so that crops are planted at the same height above sea level.

Rainwater has an easier time seeping into the ground to prevent erosion.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry is certified as an Authorized Economic Operator


The Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua- was certified as an Authorized Economic Operator of Guatemala -AEO- in the activity of Exporter by the Guatemalan Superintendency of Tax Administration -SAT-.

This accreditation reinforces compliance with international safety standards and obligations in current legislation on the export of sugar. In addition, operational and administrative procedures of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry with the SAT will be more agile and it may be recognized as an AEO by the customs services of other countries that have similar programs with which a mutual recognition agreement has been signed.

Guatemala is one of the 16 countries in Latin America, North America and the Caribbean Region that have implemented the figure of the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO). AEOs are individual or legal persons that are considered reliable and safe economic operators by Customs Authorities because they comply with international security standards, as well as the norms, requirements and obligations established in current customs legislation.

Vista aerea de Expogranel Guatemala

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry supports health centers to face the COVID crisis

Fundazucar delivered kits EPP to health workers

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry continues to support health centers on the South of the country with the delivery of 1,204 protection kits for public health workers in the departments of Escuintla, Jutiapa, Retalhuleu, Santa Rosa and Suchitepequez.

Each kit contains 4 KN95 masks, 2 gowns, 3 pairs of gloves and 1 protection mask.

Likewise, the Sugar Industry, through -Fundazucar-, supplied the health services with 124 gallons of glycerinated alcohol and the same number of gallons of antibacterial gel for disinfecting the hands of patients and workers.

152 gallons of alcohol were also delivered to municipalities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the 44 markets and public squares of the South of Guatemala.

Fundazucar delivered kits EPP to health workersSince the beginning of the pandemic, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has distributed 6,706 Kits to health workers from the health services of the South of the country. It has also delivered 16,676 surgical masks and 1,749 gallons of glycerinated alcohol to municipalities.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry, in addition to contributing with donations to the authorities, has promoted and supported projects focused on finding solutions to face the pandemic.

Fundazucar delivered kits EPP to health workers

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry contributed with 30% of the electrical energy consumed in the country during the 2020-21 Zafra


The cogeneration mills contributed with 30% of the energy consumed in the country during the 2020/21 harvest, reaching peaks in some days that reached up to 46%. This was announced by the Association of Independent Cogenerators of Guatemala -ACI-, in the presentation of the results of electricity generation.

Luis Ortiz, Executive Director of ACI, explained that during the 2020/21 Zafra, the cogeneration plants 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 or to all the energy consumed by the more than 1.1 million users during a year.

CogenerationThe maximum available power of the Cogeneration Plants to deliver to the grid during the Zafra was 562 (MW) megawatts, which is equivalent to 2 times the maximum capacity of the Chixoy hydroelectric dam, the plant with the highest electricity generation capacity in Guatemala. For this, more than 6.4 million tons of cane biomass, a product of the sugar production process, were used.

The electricity production of the Cogenerators is fundamental for the Guatemalan electricity system because it contributes to the diversification of the energy matrix and to the stability of the electricity tariff. The electricity produced by the Sugar Industry is renewable, cheap and complements during the dry season, which is when the capacity of the hydroelectric plants is reduced because there is less water availability.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry has an installed generation capacity of 1020 MW, this makes them self-sufficient in the energy field since they generate their own energy and the surplus is sold to the National Interconnected System (SNI). 63% of the energy produced during the 2020/21 harvest was injected into the SNI to meet national demand and exports to Central America and Mexico; and the remaining 37% was used for the operation of the sugar mills.

With this generation of renewable energy, up to 4 million tons of CO2eq are prevented from reaching the environment each year, according to a study by the Guatemalan Sugar Carbon Footprint, carried out by the Private Institute for Climate Change Research of Guatemala -ICC-.

ACI was founded in 1997. It is made up of 8 cogeneration plants, which use one of the by-products of sugar production, the biomass of sugar cane, for the production of 100% renewable energy.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry contributes to the aquatic biodiversity

Ingenios azucareros siembran peces para contribuir con la diversidad

The conservation of biodiversity is one of the commitments of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, therefore it is one of the main axes of its the Environmental Policy. Within this framework, the sugar sector has implemented the fish stocking program in the rivers of the South of Guatemala.

The stocking of fish aims to increase the population of native species in rivers. The Guatemalan Sugar Industry, with the support of the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC-, breed 3 species of native mojarras: Prieta, Tusa and Balcera; in addition to the freshwater snail, which reproduce in ponds and are released into rivers with the support of the community.

Los ingenios azucareros siembran peces para contribuir a la diversidadSinces 2015 the Sugar Industry in conjunction with the ICC have released around 160,000 fingerlings and 18,000 freshwater snail into three rivers of the South of Guatemala. The ICC conducts studies to analyze the fish population in various rivers of the South of Guatemala, with the aim of determining how the aquatic fauna is doing and prioritizing fish releases where necessary, always using native species.

The Environmental Policy of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, which began to be implemented in the 2015/16 zafra, regulates eight aspects: sugarcane burning, use and management of fertilizers, use of water, use of vinaza, use of water in the factory, solid waste management, particulates in chimneys and air quality; as well as protection of biodiversity. Every year improvements are made to achieve this objective of caring for the environment in its operation.

Business Network for the Prevention of Child Labour in Guatemala receives an international award for its leadership

no child labour award

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry congratulates the Chamber of Agro -Camagro- and the Business Network for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor, for obtaining first place in the international award “Leader of Change for the Eradication of Child Labour”, which is granted by the International Organization of Employers -OIE-.

With the initiative “Boys and Girls to School”, the Guatemalan business network stood out in the contest due to the diversity of innovative activities, promoted through different sectors, with positive impacts on the elimination and prevention of child labour. The network is made up of 18 business organizations, 4 NGOs, 2 government institutions and 2 international organizations.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry actively participates, both in Camagro and in the Business Network. Since 1999 has permanently contributed to the prevention and eradication of child labor, through a union policy that establishes the working conditions to generate decent employment and the No child labor in the activities of the sugar sector.

Likewise, it contributes to this objective through the social programs carried out by Fundazucar, which are focused on strengthening public institutions and promoting responsible citizen participation to influence the improvement of the quality-of-life indicators of the population in the 56 municipalities of the South of Guatemala where it operates, promoting equal opportunities for the education of boys and girls.

Prevention and eradication of work child

The joint efforts made by the Sugar Industry, in coordination with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association and community coordination through Fundazucar, have allowed great advances in the prevention and eradication of child labour because each of the parties has assumed the role that corresponds to open up opportunities for sustainable solutions within the framework of public policy.

no child labour award“The Guatemalan Sugar Industry reiterates its commitment to the generation of formal, dignified and decent employment, and the No child labor,” said Alfredo Vila, President of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua-.

This award recognizes the efforts that each of the sectors represented in Camagro and in the Business Network have made over the years to avoid hiring child labor and to bet on a better future for Guatemalan children through education.

The jury that chose the winners was made up of the International Organization of Employers -OIE-, the Kalash Foundation and the International Labor Organization -OIT-. The announcement of the global winners was made on June 16th, 2021, from Geneva, Switzerland.

Ambassador Popp visited the Guatemalan Sugar Industry to learn about its labor practices

Ambassador Popp knows labor practices of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry

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.

Ambassador Popp knows labor practices of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry

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.

Ambassador Popp knows labor practices of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry

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.


More than 900 thousand trees will be planted in 2021

the Reforestation Plan of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry was launched

Within the framework of National Tree Day, the Reforestation Plan of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry was launched, which for this year consists of the planting of 900 thousand trees in 10 departments of the country.

The planting of the 900 thousand trees takes place between May and August, on 400 hectares of land, which in the future will become forests in the departments of Santa Rosa, Chimaltenango, Escuintla, Suchitepequez, Retalhuleu, Jalapa, Solola, Sacatepequez , Jutiapa and Quetzaltenango.

The Reforestation Plan of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry began with a symbolic planting of 100 trees on a farm in Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa, Escuintla; with which the forest cover in the area is increased. It should be noted that, since 2017, more than 2,700 trees have been planted in the area, reaching three hectares of forest.

The activity was attended by the Regional Delegate of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources -MARN-, Eng. Juan Chamo; the Escuintla Subregional Director of the National Forest Institute -INAB-, Eng. Hugo Rene Monroy; the Manager of Environmental Compliance Manager of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua-, Eng. Otto Fuentes; the Director of the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC-, Ph. D. Alex Guerra; as well as collaborators from the sugar mills and the media.

“As part of our commitment to the care and conservation of the environment, since 2011 the Guatemalan Sugar Industry started a program with the -ICC-, for the conservation and recovery of forests in strategic areas that contribute to the protection of riverbanks, zones of hydric recharge and biological corridors” affirmed Otto Fuentes, Manager of Environmental Compliance Manager of Asazgua.

the Reforestation Plan of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry was launched

Through this program, by the end of 2021, a total of 6.8 million trees will be planted in eleven years, with the support of the sugar sector,” said Alex Guerra, Director of the ICC. Likewise, he indicated that in each region native species are planted that serve as energy, timber, and conservation plantations; among them Cedar, Mahogany, Palo Blanco, among others”.

ICC provides technical and scientific support and advice and is the link with communities, organizations, municipal and regional authorities, for the installation of nurseries and identification of reforestation areas. The 900 thousand plants to be planted this year were produced in 88 nurseries installed in different locations. In addition, this program has the support of the National Institute of Forests -INAB-.