Farmers hurt by falling pricesThe floor price of sugarcane for this year has been fixed at Rs448 per quintal. The price was Rs481 four years ago
Sugarcane farmers have been getting less for their crops despite an increase in production costs, with prices dropping by Rs33 per quintal over the last four years.
The floor price of sugarcane for this year has been fixed at Rs448 per quintal. The price was Rs481 four years ago. Farmers have started losing interest in growing sugarcane due to the falling returns.
President of the Mill Gate Sugar Producers’ Committee Bed Bahadur Budhathoki said that it was unfortunate for the farmers that an agreement has been made to fix the price at a much lower level than in previous years.
“At a time when prices of everything have been going up, farmers have been forced to sell their sugarcane at low prices,” complained Budhathoki. “We had demanded that the price should be fixed in the range of Rs600 per quintal based on the increased costs of inputs, but we have been forced to agree to the reduced rate,” he said. Sugar manufacturers and sugarcane growers agreed on the new price on Saturday during negotiations held in Kathmandu. The price was Rs461 per quintal last year and Rs476 per quintal two years ago. Farmers had been getting more for their harvests in past years as the government was providing a subsidy of Rs25 per quintal to sugar factories in a bid to promote the sugarcane sector. The subsidy has been stopped from this fiscal year.
Meanwhile, sugarcane farmers have been struggling to get their money from the mills after payment was held up due to disputes between the two sides on prices. The growers have not yet received full payment for the sugarcane they sold to the factories last year.
The cultivation of sugarcane had grown in Sarlahi after two sugar mills were set up in the district. However, the fall in prices and delays in payment have hit the farmers hard, and many have been discouraged from continuing to grow sugarcane.
Meanwhile, Hariwan-based Indu Shankar Sugar Mill
has agreed to clear all the
outstanding payments of last year by mid-January.
Likewise, Dhankaul-based Annapurna Sugar Mill is preparing to crush sugarcane by paying part of the amount owed to farmers. The factory reached an agreement with a number of farmers on operating the mill by making a partial payment.
Shiva Pujan Rae, a former lawmaker and representative for the farmers, said that the two sides had reached an agreement on starting to crush sugarcane after paying Rs350 per quintal.
“As the mill has not been able to sell its products due to the banda in the Tarai, it has agreed to pay the rest of the money in the coming days,” said Rae, adding that all of the outstanding amount would be paid. However, all the sugarcane growers are not convinced. Another group of farmers held a separate meeting where their leaders proposed selling their sugarcane to other mills.
Kapilmuni Mainali, president of the Federation of Sugarcane Producers, said that they had asked other mills to buy their sugarcane after Annapurna Sugar Mill seemed to be not interested in paying the farmers. “We will not sell sugarcane to mills that do not pay the farmers,” said Mainali.